Friday, 16 September 2011
Review: POD - Stephen Wallenfels
Extent: 304 pages
Pub Date: 1st September 2011
POD's - strange alien spheres hover menacingly in the sky, zapping anyone who ventures outside.
Josh is 15 and stuck in his house with his OCD dad. They're running out of food... Megs is 12, alone and trapped in a multi-storey carpark. The hotel next door is under the control of dangerous security staff, but Megs has something they want, and they'll do anything to get it...
When the aliens invade, the real enemy becomes humanity itself.
What would you do to survive?
Many people describe a book they read as “unputdownable” or “a real page turner” – what they really mean is that the story was so engaging it was hard to put down but of course they did in order to fulfil the basic functions of life. With POD by Stephen Wallenfels, I want to say this book was unputdownable and I really mean it. I started reading it one afternoon and I didn’t stop until I hit the last page. I had no dinner, I forgot all my chores and I ignored everybody’s attempts at conversation and it is all the fault of Stephen Wallenfels’ characters.
The books that really stick with me and make me pick them up time and time again are the books where the author has truly mastered the art of “voice”. There are characters and there are great characters, but the truly brilliant characters are the ones that make you see through their eyes, the ones that make your own heart pound when they are scared, the ones that make you cry when they hit the wall of despair and the ones that make you smile uncontrollably when it all turns out alright. There are not many books whose characters have made me react physically to them but POD definitely has those characters, very rarely do I actually feel myself slip into a book but with POD I did just that. It just has such a great power, and I think that this power is what makes science fiction a very special genre. It’s not all about spaceships and talking robots, think about all the dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction that’s flying around at the moment, they are sci-fi too. It’s about exploring human nature by putting it in extreme situations and this is essentially what Stephen Wallenfels has done in POD. He has created two incredibly realistic characters with very strong voices and plunged them into a survival situation to see what they would do. They react in different ways because they have different personalities but it is the strength of their personalities that make their reactions so realistic and it really feels like the author is documenting the survival instinct not just experimenting with it because you know instinctively that no matter how horrific things get this is probably exactly what would happen. This is what makes it so terrifying and darkly intriguing.
And this is why I literally could not put it down. I just didn’t have it in me to leave Megs and Josh hanging mid-story, playing hell with my imagination. I had to get to the resolution, I had to know what happened to them and if it turned out alright or not. It felt like they were real people and if I left them that would make me heartless, like I was putting a gun to their heads and making them stand there for hours thinking about what was about to happen to them. So, I kept reading all evening and into the night and if you read this book – which by the way is something you should definitely do – I challenge you to do any different. In fact, get it and cancel everything for that day because nothing is worth doing once you start reading POD.