Jade Fall (Book Review)
by Kevin Carlson
Sci-Fi (post-apocalyptic horror-action)
A quick-paced adventure that takes place over a few hours, Jade Fall is a fun and fast blend of genres (post-apocalyptic sci-fi, horror, and action) that will keep you entertained.
Lauren and her friends visit an amusement park, Hydro World, located in the Mojave Desert on its opening day. The park is advanced beyond anything Lauren could have imagined—state of the art in a technology that allowed its builders to create whole enclosed ecosystems, mimicking a natural world lost to environmental decay.
Then the Jade Fall happens, an enormous green meteor makes landfall, exploding into blinding emerald light. When the light fades, Lauren has survived, and so has Hydro World, but as she looks around, only two of her friends, Bobby and Lisa, are there—everyone else has vanished. Full disclosure - I “know” the author in that he reviewed my novel on his website Writing in Obscurity and we interact on Twitter. I hadn’t realized he was an indie author until he posted a link to his book a few months ago. It sounded interesting so I grabbed the ebook. I’m glad I did. He in no way asked me to read this or provide a review.
The characters really shine in this novel. Lauren, the main character, is young - barely an adult - but she is a mature young woman (but not overly so). Her age fits her personality and actions perfectly. Sometimes eighteen-year-olds in books act like they’re thirty or fourteen, but she is clearly a woman on the brink of self-discovery and I really liked her. She’s a bit self-contained, but she’s strong, gutsy, and determined. She has a love interest but he’s not the force driving her (as is often the case in stories about women this age).
The other side characters are memorable and well-characterized. The “good” side characters are likeable and you understand their actions, and the few “bad” characters are just unlikeable enough you can understand why the other characters don’t like them but also why the good characters don’t actively try to lose or hurt them in their escape from Hydro World.
One of the things I really liked was how the Jade Fall isn’t really explained. We are left to our own extrapolations as to what the fall did or didn’t do. That being said, a follow-up epilogue, like that of the prologue, would have helped round out the story. It ended definitively enough that it didn’t feel like a sequel was required, but in this regard, it also needed something else to finish it off.
The action scenes are fantastic. Carlson has a great grasp of pacing during fights and I could clearly envision what was going on. The story progressed at a logical pace and as more and more fantastical elements arrived the tension grew. The final battle is really cool and very fun. The setting, while I loved that it all took place in Hydro World, needed a map. I had trouble understanding how big the place really was and why it was so hard to get everywhere. A little more backstory on the world and the domes would have also been interesting. It wasn’t required to understand the story, but I like that kind of worldbuilding. That being said, Hydro World itself is an interesting place that has many surprises.
If you like Eldrich horror, monsters, and psychic/telekinetic powers, you will enjoy this a lot. Now, I hate bringing this up, but the book could use another edit. There are a lot of adverbs, some repeated phrases/words, and some misplaced commas. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book as a whole, but I found these things distracting because I noticed them. The prose could have been tightened in some areas as well. Some people won’t notice or care about this but I'd be remiss as a reviewer if I didn't say it. That being said, I really enjoyed this novel, the cover is great, and I recommend it to those who enjoy Lovecraftian elements, action sci-fi, and X-men.