Saturday, December 28, 2013

Book Review: 900 Miles by S. Johnathan Davis

I attended a panel at Walker Stalker Con that featured several horror genre authors. S. Johnathan Davis was one of them, and after hearing him describe his novel 900 Miles my friend and I were more than intrigued enough to pick up a copy.


The lasting impression that 900 Miles leaves is that the main plot line - the lead character, John, getting back to his wife - was a great idea that this book didn't do the best job of realizing. The biggest issue was that there was very little character or relationship development - especially in regards to John's marriage. It's very admirable that he wanted to get back to his pregnant wife, but what glimpses the reader gets into that relationship are minimal and almost seem thrown into the story to add length rather than depth.

Additionally, while the time frame of 900 Miles becomes a bit confusing about halfway through the novel, many of the situations that John and his traveling companion Kyle find themselves in show a society that has spun out of control far too quickly. And - spoiler alert, here - when they reach the supposed refuge of a place called "Avalon", the Elite class who rules there is already completely corrupt and the working class is already tired of it - not to mention the fact that they've had several gladiator-style fights in their "arena", though it can't have been more than two weeks (and is probably closer to one) since the zombie apocalypse began.

Of course, why did John make the detour to Avalon at all? The gladiator fights and the haves against have nots were both unnecessary to the main plot line of him finding his wife. While they added action to the story, due to the aforementioned timeline it seemed out of place. There was plenty of action happening already, and as it was the ending seemed rushed - so I don't think Avalon was necessary from a word count point of view. Davis also did a pretty good job of setting 900 Miles up for a sequel, and in that case I think that the Avalon part of John's tale would have worked much better in a second novel.

Lastly, I know that this book was self/small press published; because of that, I tried very, very hard to look past the many spelling and grammatical errors. Typos I outright ignored. But it was extremely difficult to not pull out a red pen, especially when I came across one comma splice after another after another. (Not to mention the switching of words like "passed" for "past" and "granite" for "granted".)

With some additional character and relationship building and some changes to either the timeline or the Avalon portion of the story - not to mention a proper editing job - 900 Miles really shows promise. For that I'll give it 2.5/5 stars with hopes that I see a new edition of it some day :)

"Most of the leaders in our world are in it for themselves."

"Nothing like 'incentive' to push a man [past] his limits. A man wiht the right kind of motivation can do anything. Anything."

"There [have] not been many times [when] I felt true joy in my adult life. It [seems] like we grow out of joy a little more with each year of age." Pin It

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