Hollowland - Amanda Hocking Actual rating: 2.5 Stars“This is the way the world ends––not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.”Thus begins Hollowland, a post-apocalyptic zombie novel centered around a 19-year-old girl named Remy. At the start of the story, Remy is at a government facility that shelters people from zombies. The bad news: the zombies have gotten in. Remy's young brother has been evacuated before everyone else (for "medical reasons" ... although it turns out to not be as simple as you think). Determined to get away from the facility and to go after her brother, Remy escapes from the shelter––accompanied by two younger girls, Sommer and Harlow.Within the first like, ten pages, Sommer gets bitten by a zombie and Remy's like, "Sorry bitch, gotta leave you behind." I guess this is supposed to demonstrate that Remy is hardcore and always does what she has to do ... although since she does this with little to no regret just kind of makes her seem like a heartless asshole. ... In fact, she pretty much seems that way for the rest of the book. So yeah.Anyway! Remy and Harlow continue through the desert that was once America (which turns out to be Las Vegas, oh boy). Along the way, they pick up a pet lion, this guy who is kind of a doctor (as in he was in medical school when the apocalypse happened), and a rock star. And this weird band of characters makes a journey to find Remy's brother, of course encountering a lot of crazy zombies along the way. Huzzah! And, that's basically what the story is about.Okay. So, to be honest, I went into this book with really low expectations. For some reason, I've always just been skeptical of Amanda Hocking's books. Before I read this book in its entirety, I'd read snippets of her writing here and there and just thought it wasn't very good. And well ... I still don't think her writing is very good, and I'm not sure why St. Martin's decided to pick her up when there are a lot more talented unpublished/self-published authors out there (well, besides that her books sell extremely well for some reason). But, whatever.Maybe it's because I had such low expectations ... but because this book was not as horrendous as I expected, I ended up actually liking it to a certain extent. While it did have a lot if issues (which I shall soon illustrate), I did find it to be really addicting. It has a fast-moving plot, it's atmospheric, it's scary, etc. Despite all the issues with it, I couldn't put it down. And over all, I thought it was pretty all right. That said, I have to talk about all the problems I had with this book. And ... there are a lot.First of all, there are a lot of really careless typos. There was a lot of missing punctuation and little things of that sort, but there were also a lot of really glaring errors such as:"I needed a shower and a good's night rest.""With th gun shoved in her skirt …""Then I saw her silhouette as she sat up, and I let out relived breath.""I'd been trying to except my fate."On top of that, Hocking should learn how to properly punctuate dialogue. (Although, I've recently discovered that this is a REALLY common writing problem. Like, I'm in college and I've been in writing workshop classes where I swear like 8/10 people incorrectly punctuate dialogue. I don't understand ... Does like no one teach anyone how to do it anymore?!)So yeah, listen Amanda Hocking (and anyone else who doesn't know their punctuation rules): "NODDED" IS NOT A DIALOGUE TAG. NEITHER IS "SHRUGGED." NEITHER IS "SMILED."There was SO much of this:"Blah blah," I nodded."Blah blah," I shrugged."Blah blah," I smiled.Ugh, just writing it makes me cringe. The proper way is this:"Blah blah." I nodded."Blah blah." I shrugged."Blah blah." I smiled.That one change from a comma to a period makes all the difference. Because if you use a comma, what follows is a dialogue tag. And here's the thing, people: YOU CANNOT "NOD" A SENTENCE. YOU CANNOT "SHRUG" A SENTENCE. YOU CAN NOT "SMILE" A SENTENCE. YOU CAN SAY A SENTENCE, YOU CAN YELL A SENTENCE, YOU CAN WHISPER A SENTENCE. BUT YOU CAN NOT NOD, SHRUG, OR SMILE A SENTENCE UNLESS THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU.Phew, well I'm glad I got that out of my system. And hopefully someone learned something new today. Hooray.But I mean, seriously, did anybody proof-read this? Look, I'm a writer, and I find really stupid typos like this in my writing all the time ... and I'm like, "Shit, how did I miss that before?" But that's why you have other people read your book for you ... because they notice these things. So if anyone actually edited this, they should have seen things like that. It's just inexcusable. Continuing with writing problems ... There was hardly any description or emotion in the writing. Hocking could use a lesson in "show, don't tell." Most of the time the writing was just kind of like, "I saw a zombie eating a person. I went up to the zombie. I shot its face." It would just be the bare minimum. Not only did it make it hard to visualize anything, but it also made Remy just seem like an emotionless robot. *Cough* This is the same problem I had with the writing in The Hunger Games.I mean, compare this to really descriptive/emotional zombie books such as [b:The Reapers Are the Angels|8051458|The Reapers Are the Angels (Reapers, #1)|Alden Bell|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1317066698s/8051458.jpg|12707063] by Alden Bell or [b:Rot and Ruin|7157310|Rot and Ruin (Benny Imura, #1)|Jonathan Maberry|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1264898635s/7157310.jpg|7443037] by Jonathan Maberry, and it just doesn't hold up. While gore and evisceration and all those things really gross me out, I do feel they're necessary in order to create a good zombie story. It's just what feels the most believable.Oh yeah, and that reminds me ... Believability issues. Oh goodness, where to start? Here are just a few:- There's not really a solid explanation as to why the zombies exist. In fact, Hocking claims that the zombies aren't really zombies, but just "regular people infected with the lyssavirus genotype 8." Errrm okay.- Kind of a small thing, but Remy keeps talking about how they all have messenger bags with all their supplies in them. And I'm just like, why the fuck do they have messenger bags instead of backpacks? To look more fashionable or something? It's just so impractical. Your shoulder would hurt like a bitch.- The pet lion. The FREAKING PET LION. Really, just ... WHAT. There is no purpose at all for the pet lion in this book. Obviously, Hocking just said to herself, "You know what would be really cool? IF THEY HAD A PET LION!" Because just ... no. It doesn't make any sense at all. So ... what happens is, Remy and Harlow find Ripley (that's the lion's name) in a cage abandoned on the side of the road. And because she took too many stupid pills I guess, Remy decides that they just need to free this lion. And this is the brilliant explanation as to why Ripley-the-lion doesn't eat them:"She won't eat us," I decided.OHHH OKAYYY. So ... because Remy just decided the lion isn't going to eat them, the lion doesn't eat them. That's how real life works! So the next time I fall in a tank of hungry sharks I'll just be like, "I just decided that these sharks aren't going to eat me. There, everything's fine!" Problem solved. That aside, even if the lion miraculously decided to not try and eat them, it would just be horribly inconvenient. After a quick Google search, I have found out that lions eat about 11-15 pounds of meat a day. In a world that's already so scarce on food, why would you want to waste resources on an unnecessary pet lion? I mean, Hocking's explanation seems to be that Ripley eats zombies so she doesn't need anything else for her diet. But ... I mean, zombies are essentially just walking, rotting dead things. That would mean Ripley would be trying to eat like 15 pounds of spoiled meat every day. Pretty sure she'd die pretty fast. - They also just happen to meet a rock star. What are the odds? I mean, I actually thought Lazlo was kind of an interesting character. It is interesting to think about how silly it is that we make celebrities some kind of immortal gods in our minds, but if the world was about to end we really wouldn't give a shit about them anymore. So, that aspect of his character is intriguing to a certain extent. It's like, he spent his whole life trying to become famous, and just when he did, he realized how pointless it was. So, that's somewhat thought-provoking. But ... the whole thing just seems unlikely. On the semi-related subject of believability ... There was this whole issue about Remy not seeming to give a fuck about anything. For instance:- Sommer and this other guy named Beck (who was apparently a love interest for Remy ... at least, that seems to be what Hocking kept hinting at), died in like the very first chapter. And ... Remy just did not seem to care. And I didn't care, either. Maybe this could be attributed to there being a pacing issue ... That is, if the story had started slightly earlier and we'd gotten a better chance to know them, then it would have mattered more. But, as it was, it just seemed insignificant. Both of these characters said like two sentences and then they were goners, so ... whatever.- Same thing with Max (Remy's brother). We didn't even "see" him at the beginning at all before he was taken away from the shelter. Not only that, but I kept forgetting that the point of the journey was ultimately to find Max. Remy hardly ever even talked about him, and when she did, I failed to feel her fear or sadness or anything like that. It would just kind of be like, "Oh yeah, I miss Max I guess. Hopefully we'll find him soon. Yada yada." - Similarly, Remy like never, ever talked about what her life was like before the apocalypse happened. It was like she just didn't exist before the zombies came into being. And yet, we know for a fact that it happened within her lifetime. Not only that, but she makes all these off-hand comments about what life was like before, and then she NEVER elaborates on them. I think the best example is this:"My first time had been with my high school boyfriend. We'd been crazy in love and we thought we'd be together forever. Then a zombie got him, but that was after we'd broken up."I mean, this is THE ONLY TIME REMY EVER MENTIONS THIS. So ... you're telling me she had a serious boyfriend before the zombies attacked, that they were IN LOVE, that THEY THOUGHT THEY'D BE TOGETHER FOREVER, and yet ... it's not even worth mentioning him by name? And she never seems to think about him EVER? Not to mention that she seems to just brush this aside by saying "but that was after we'd broken up." Oh okay ... so because you broke up with him, it doesn't really matter that he got eaten by zombies. Nahhh. All those feelings you had for him before just evaporated, I guess. I ... just ... WHAAAT.But okay, okay. As I was saying before, despite all my issues with this book, I didn't think it was horrible. It at least kept me entertained, and it had its interesting/unpredictable plot twists. I didn't see it coming that Max was immune to the virus. Although, then it came very predictable that Remy would also be immune, which is ... pretty stupid. But, oh well. It also had an evil cliffhanger ending. So, ultimately I decided I liked it enough and was curious enough to read the sequel. And actually, I'm glad I did, because I liked the second book better. I'll have a review up of that one soon.Anyway, I'm going to bring this review to a close now. Basically, this book wasn't fantastic. But it was still better than I expected, and––despite issues with grammar, believability, and character development––it kept me interested.