Travel Documents 25: Love, Death And The After Series

Love, Death And The After Series

Love, Death, & The After: Darkness: Book 1

Love, Death, & The After: Abandoned Spaces: Book 2

Love, Death, & The After: Never Again: Book 3

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Genre: Dystopian, climate change, military, FPS Adventure, apocalyptic

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The Dust Cover Copy: Book 1

Human civilization has collapsed. Rainey Vidic, MD is a genius, and she has Preston Hayes–her open hand, or hammering fist…

…Only the strongest and smartest will survive in The After.

A gifted surgeon, her retired warrior lover, a former Marine, and a taciturn drone pilot fight for survival in a dangerous and pitiless world, while navigating human needs for love, family and community.

When one of their own faces a lethal illness, Dr. Rainey Vidic’s efforts are compromised by a savage horde of highly intelligent, relentlessly evil creatures that threaten the lives of the entire team.
Desperate to save their teammate, the Team encounters an imperiled town of survivors that may hold the key to saving them all. . . or send humanity into extinction.

With echoes of McCarthy’s “The Road” and the thrill ride of “Jurassic Park,” this three volume, four part series, “Love, Death, & The After,” tests the limits of romance, loyalty, and community against a violent world hell-bent on devouring it all.

The Deets

The Scene

Worldbuilding

Exploring issues of climate change, genetic manipulation, and playing with all the systems that break down as humanity loses its grip on the modern world, the world building is solid. I enjoyed the hints that technology had reached futuristic heights before the Before ended and the After engulfed society; that kept the sense that we’re reading sci-fi and not hard Apocalyptica strong.

The world fell to a mix of disease and human panic, which is always a volatile combination. Now that society’s down, circumstances are giving it a kick in the gut via gene-spliced creatures that might–might–have been human once. It isn’t a nice place. At all.

The Crowd

Characterization

I really wanted to like these characters more than I eventually did. I didn’t finish the series disliking them particularly. But I struggled to stay engaged.
Rainey is interesting: conflicted about the conditions she and the world are dealing with, working on issues and with her own personal biases. Preston has flashes of interest and a neat backstory. The band-of-brothers element to their team is always a draw for me…

And yet.

And yet the pieces never really gelled. The side characters, especially, felt added for ambiance throughout the story. I kept hearing my own mind saying ‘this is all on the surface’ as I read. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but that was the thought. I often felt as if I was reading the script for a video game as I worked my way through the books. A good video game, don’t get me wrong. But I couldn’t get past that sense that this was a game. Both the protaganists and the antagonists felt superficial, their motives displayed on the ‘screen’ as blocks of exposition. There was the sense that once the annoying motive element was gotten out of the way, the fire-fights and cliff-hangers could resume.

 

The Lingo

Writing Style

I think the style is the main culprit in the sense that we never get past the surface of this story. Take these passages from Book 1 and Book 2:

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“Dressed, Preston put Rainey’s shotgun in her hands and he looked into her eyes. She nodded, scared but aware it had taken a full minute to get dressed and armed. She knew to Preston it was a full forty-five seconds too long. The night before he had swapped his SCAR-Heavy’s 17-inch barrel for the shorter 10-inch for close quarters fighting just in case. The three-point sling placed his weapon on his chest, right hand on the grip, weapon down. Time to roll. “Ready, babe?” he asked her. She was scared, she wanted him to stay with her, stay in bed and hide with her. She hated feeling irrational because of the Things, the Nagual. But if he was going out there, she was too. No matter how much she hated the Nagual.”

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

“He ate slowly, watching the storm beyond the windows. The rain was a roar on the Humvee’s roof. Neither of them could sleep. They both had a general feeling something was off. Mostly James’ sense of primary operational responsibility during Rainey and Preston’s absence, his duty to the Team kept him up. He wouldn’t admit that he felt out of sorts, but his best friend was out there handling the sharp end of an op the Doc was running, and he was sitting here.

Morgan couldn’t sleep mostly for a different reason. Ever since one of their two former college gamer-hacker-guys, Jack, had found the hidden files related to the vet clinic in the middle of East-Bumblefrag-Nowhere, and discovered a black site lab beneath it, something was pulling at the back of her mind.”

*

The entire series runs like this, relying on exposition to get everything across. It gets tedious by the third chapter of Book 1. By Book 3, you’re really ready to be done. Which is a shame, because there are some interesting interpersonal dynamics and some great ideas…but the delivery is clunky enough that focusing on the good is a struggle.

 

The Moves

Plot

If you like action-heavy procedurals and quest plots such as The Avengers, The Road, Die Hard and the Resident Dead movies, this is up your alley. It didn’t really do a lot for me, but a good shoot-and-run with intrigue used as the seasoning rather than the meal is something that plenty of people love.

Overall Rating

If you like video-game movies and Marvel flicks, this is great for you. If you prefer more finesse in your story craft, better give it a pass.