Authors, if you want to be featured on the Sunday Spotlight – write a great book. If I buy it and read it and agree that it’s a great book, it’ll probably end up here. If you wanna send me a copy of your great book, that’s very cool and I appreciate it. But I’m not going to be a review site, and I’m not promising anything except that once a week I’ll try to write up a book from an independent author that I love. But I won’t turn down gifts – email them to johnhartness AT gmail DOT com.
We’re not going to go into the fact that Amanda Hocking came out of nowhere in 2010 to become a monster best-selling author, all without the backing of any big publishing house or press machine. We’re not going to hold her up as some type of gold standard for independent authors and make her our Joan of Arc for self-publishing. Because frankly, none of that matters. All that matters is that this chick from Minnesota has written some kickass books and you should check them out.
Now a bunch of Hocking’s books are in trilogies, but my favorite book of hers so far is a stand-alone zombie novel called Hollowland. The blurb for Hollowland says “This is the way the world ends – not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.” And from page 1, this book had me by the short hairs and never let go. 19-year-old Remy King only cares about one thing in the world – getting her brother the help he needs. And she will do anything it takes to get Max to safety, from battling hordes of zombies to bands of outlaw scavengers to her own hormones and despair.
Hocking paints a great post-apocalyptic world, with plenty of grit but also the odd ray of hope. Remy tries to be tough as nails, but shows all too often that she’s really a good person underneath. Look, I’m no book critic, I’m just a redneck writer with a fantasy literature itch, and Hollowland scratched that as well as anything I’ve read recently. I loved it as much as I loved The Hunger Games, and it really runs right up the with Ender’s Game, one of my all-time faves. That’s not to say that this book is anything like those, although there are certain dystopian traditions that it shares with The Hunger Games, as well as 1984, We and even the final scenes of E.T.
The plot is tight and fast-paced, and the book kept me up way past my bedtime for more than one night. I even snuck in a little time to read at work, which is a true testament to how much I wanted to know what happened next. The characters are nicely well-rounded, from the shell-shocked rock star to the frightened baby brother to the ass-kicking heroine. I would say this is a great book for teen and preteen girls who are interested in fantasy as horror lit, because it gives them a solid role model instead of the insipid heroines we see in so many TV shows and movies. Remy is definitely more Rambo and Veronica Mars than Bella, and the literary world needs more of that.
Hollowland is a thrill ride of a book, and one that leaves you gasping for breath at the end, feeling fulfilled and still wanting more. I felt like the book ended almost perfectly, but I still wanted a sequel just because I enjoyed the characters so much. So you should go buy it.
For more about Amanda Hocking and her work, go to her blog.
To buy Hollowland for multiple e-readers, including the Kindle, go to Smashwords.