Review of Breakdown by Katherine Amt Hanna

May 8, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

breakdownBreakdown
By Katherine Amt Hanna; Performed by Ralph Lister
Publisher: Brilliance Audio (Audible)
12 hours [UNABRIDGED]

Themes: / post-apocalypse / plague / influenza /

Publisher summary:

In a world ravaged by a deadly pandemic, former rock star Chris Price leaves New York and sets out on a long journey home to England. It’s been six years of devastation since the plague killed his wife and daughter, and Chris is determined to find out if any of his family has survived. His passage leaves him scarred, in body and mind, by exposure to humankind at its most desperate and dangerous. But the greatest ordeal awaits him beyond the urban ruins, in an idyllic country refuge where Chris meets a woman, Pauline, who is largely untouched by the world’s horrors. Together, Chris and Pauline undertake the most difficult facet of Chris’s journey: confronting grief, violence, and the man Chris has become. Together, they will discover whether the human spirit is capable of surviving and loving again in a world of unparalleled desolation.

All I knew about this book when I started it was that it was a post-apocalypse story, so I went into with no expectations except that maybe it would probably be a survival story with moments of action and horror. Instead, it was a beautifully written drama set in a time of global recovery after a massive influenza plague.

The plot itself is character-driven and more mainstream than I usually read, but I was drawn in quickly and hooked by the great writing, tormented characters, and dark setting. Katherine Amt Hanna tells the story from multiple characters’ points of view, and always from a very close psychic distance so you are dropped straight into the character’s thoughts and get to know them very well. The way the characters interact is so realistic (with all their personal triggers and subtext and unsaid things) that I wondered if the author had a psychology background. I couldn’t find anything about this when I checked her bio, so perhaps she’s just one of those very keen observers of human behavior.

I also appreciated how carefully she had thought through how a post-plague would look with the survivors cautiously rebuilding their societies and getting the most essential services like the post and transport running again. There were also some interesting thought experiments about what it would be like to be a survivor in a cut-off place with family and friends scattered in different countries but no electronic communications.

The narrator of the audiobook, Ralph Lister, reminded me a lot of Steven Pacey, who gave one of my favorite audiobook readings ever for Let the Right One In. I love his narrative voice, and even though a couple of the character’s voices bugged me (Brian’s perpetual enthusiasm felt a bit out of place at times, and Pauline’s voice didn’t always strike true for me), he had a massive task to express so many different voices (and if there was any major fault with this book, it was that there were just too many characters). The few voices were pretty minor things in an otherwise awesome reading, and his great narration was one of the reasons I was always looking forward to getting back to this audiobook.

Since this story is character-driven rather than plot-driven, it moves at a very leisurely pace that might be too slow for some people, but the writing is beautiful and there is this quiet dramatic tension through the whole novel, like something terrible could happen at any moment. I love that is a first novel and independently published. This is one of those books that proves self-published titles can be just as professionally written as traditionally published works. It was a memorable read and I recommend it if you’re looking for something gentle but dark, and a little out of the ordinary.

Posted by Marissa van Uden

The SFFaudio Podcast #199 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #199 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome, and Jenny talk about NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS (audiobooks).

Talked about on today’s show:
Recent arrivals first, here’s Jenny’s list, Harry Harrison’s Deathworld, Speculative! Brilliance audiobooks (from public domain works), “he’s super clear”, author of Make Room! Make Room! (aka Soylent Green), Planet Of The Damned, “nice font”, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Telling is in the Hanish Cycle, the out of print Harlan Ellison version of A Wizard of Earthsea, The Lathe Of Heaven and the PBS TV-movie with Bruce Davidson (trailer), Work Of The Devil by Katherine Amt Hanna, “the devil has no time for long novels”, Joe Hill’s Horns and In The Tall Grass (with Stephen King), Philip K. Dick’s Vulcan’s Hammer, similar to Colossus: The Forbin Project (film), “goes Skynet on your ass”, The Game-Players Of Titan has slug aliens, good names for bands, Time Out Of Joint, Tears In Rain by Rosa Montera is inspired by Blade Runner (it has a female Rutger Hauer), translated from Spanish, The Woodcutter by Kate Danley has fairy tale characters, Beowulf, Jeff Wheeler’s Legends Of Muirwood series released all at once, House Of Cards is a great British show, Dead Spots by Scarlett Bernard sounds like one of those Lifetime movies, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke has a disturbing android romance, ewww!, Tam knows who Steven Erikson is (Forge Of Darkness), re-read of the Malazan series, we need urban fantasy and military SF people, Tenth Of December by George Saunders, prefers short stories, on Colbert, Vampires In The Lemon Grove by Karen Russell, her novel Swamplandia has been optioned by HBO, New releases start, Poe Must Die by Marc Olden, Ben Bova’s Farside comes out soon (hard SF), narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Stefan’s Fantastic Imaginings, where’s James P. Hogan’s Inherit The Earth?, the movie Frequency didn’t star Kevin Bacon, the entire X Minus One radio drama run, short story audio collections having chapters and a table of contents, Star Wars audiobooks with enhanced sound, Bryce’s review of Star Wars: Scoundrels, more Star Trek novel audio books, more classic sf, Leigh Brackett, Jerry Pournelle, Harlan Ellison, Arthur C. Clarke, George R.R. Martin, “you’re welcome, Audible”, The Mad Scientist’s Guide To World Domination by John Joseph Adams, short fiction is back, Olaf Stapelton, like a science fiction The Silmarillion, SF Crossing The Gulf podcast will discuss Olaf Stapledon and others, Mary Doria Russell, where’s the audio version of Karen Lord’s The Best Of All Possible Worlds? (actually it came out the same day as the print version), Jenny loved it, what is the Candide connection Karen?, indie Scifi Arizona author Michael McCollum on Audible (Steve Gibson approved), the Audible Feb2013 Win-Win $4.95 sale, get the first in a series cheap, Sharon Shinn’s Archangel Samaria series, Image Comics’s first issue sale, The Red Panda audio drama becomes a comic (cover), John Scalzi’s The Human Division serial, wish science fiction authors in TV series, George R.R. Martin to develop more shows for HBO, football jerseys vs Star Trek uniforms.

Monkey Brain Comics - Mask Of The Red Panda

Posted by Tamahome

The SFFaudio Podcast #184 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

October 29, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #184 – Jesse, Tamahome, Jenny, talk about the RECENT ARRIVALS in audiobooks.

Talked about on today’s show:
Is it new releases or recent arrivals?, Jenny’s pretty color-coded list, The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 2 edited by Allan Kaster, Angel of Europa by Allen M. Steele (is one of them), “it’s basic science fiction”, how to pronounce Mary Robinette KowalThe Twelve (Passage #2) by Justin Cronin is literary vampire fiction, Cloud AtlasThe Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga, “I’m not going to end this story”, “our Scott?”, In the Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe Hill, read by Stephen Lang, more manly than Stephan Rudnicki?, |READ OUR REVIEW|, “Stephen King has more pull”, Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle is epic science fiction (24 hours), one of Luke’s favorites, (it’s post The Mote in God’s Eye actually), it was a best-seller, Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher, “I follow writers”, Kirkman’s Invincible comic, Breakdown by Katherine Amt Hanna, sounds like Death of Grass, which has a new BBC audiodrama, Embedded by Dan Abnett, he writes Warhammer 40K books, The Diamond Age and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, “I have both those feelings”, “Luke didn’t like it but everyone else did”, many Mongoliad disks, Jonathan Davis likes us, Tales From the Fire Zone by Jonathan Maberry, Julie’s review of Maberry’s first Joe Ledger bookDownpour.com audiobooks, “she liked them against her will”, Cold Days by Jim Butcher, James Marsters is back narrating, When We Have Wings by Claire Corbett, very Australian accent, “vampires for Christians”, Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig, a female Stephen King character, An Apple for the Creature is monsters in school, Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire, performed by Mary Robinette Kowal, Jesse sees the future, Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko, it’s not in Russian, (Luke wasn’t thrilled), Death Warmed Over by Kevin J. Anderson, zombie p.i., a big stack of Philip K. Dick, The Man Who Japed, The Simulacra, The Crack In Space, Total Recall (We Can Remember It For You Wholesale), We Can Build You, Solar Lottery, The World Jones Made, minimalist covers, Gone by Randy Wayne White, chick that kicks ass, A Murder of Quality and Call For The Dead by John Le Carre, Jesse likes the narrator Michael Jayston, This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, |READ OUR REVIEW|, Jenny liked his podcast appearance, Jenny loved Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young, read by Keith Carradine who was in the movie Southern ComfortDream More by Dolly Parton, aphorisms at the end, Total Recall (autobiography) by Arnold Schwarzenegger, “how many pushups did he get for that?”, Pumping Iron documentary, Conan The Barbarian movie

lucufer's hammer cover

Posted by Tamahome