November 29, 2016

Edward Aubry: "Prelude to Mayhem" (Blog Tour Review)

For the blog tour calendar click here. (Note: the one above is an alternate cover featuring Glimmer the pixie :))

Title: Prelude to Mayhem [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Mayhem Wave (1st of 4 books...with plans for a fifth)
Author: Edward Aubry [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Year: 2016
Age: 14+ (note: it's marketed as a YA/NA crossover. But to me it covers all the spectrum from teen to adult)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Quirky and audacious blend of post-apocalypse, technology and magic. Characters who are easy to empathise with.
Cons: The blend I mentioned might not work for everyone.
WARNING! A couple of strong scenes, where blood flows freely and monsters creep over dead people. A character making an inappropriate joke about male physiology to a teen girl, who properly scolds him and leaves him ashamed. Some F bombs.
Will appeal to: Those who are looking for a fresh approach to post-apocalypse.

Blurb: In the ruins of his world, Harrison Cody follows a mysterious voice on the radio as he and his pixie sidekick travel on foot across a terrifyingly random landscape. They discover Dorothy O’Neill, who has had to survive among monsters when her greatest worry used to be how to navigate high school. Together they search for what remains of Chicago, and the hope that civilization can be rebuilt. (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I have been talking to the author on a few occasions since reviewing his previous title, Unhappenings - which I also rated 4 stars. Moreover, I am a semi-regular reviewer of Curiosity Quills titles (like this one), but if you look back at my ratings, this never prevented me from being unbiased.
As I stated in my disclaimer, Edward Aubry already published a book called Unhappenings. But that wasn't his first book - an earlier version of this one, called Static Mayhem, was. If you are curious about the whole story (which is also inspiring for every struggling writer out there who despairs of ever being published), you can read my interview with the author.

BOLD NEW WORLD

At present, post-apocalyptic stories are all the rage - and of course, the more they saturate the market, the harder it gets to spin an original tale. But though the core of this particular story dates back a couple of decades, it managed to stay fresh. The bold mashup of subgenres/elements (from time shuffles to supernatural occurrences, from magic to technology) is, I think, quite unique - I only encountered something similar (minus the time issue) in The Bad Rescue of Devon Streeter (now renamed Riven) by B.C. Johnson. I have to admit a few moves are bolder than others (like talking dynosaurs with a German accent and a polite attitude 😆) and some readers might find them a bit over-the-top. But Harrison - the character who manages to experiment the vaster array of strange encounters - either relates to them in a sympathetic manner, or comes to accept this new reality in a way that pretty much normalizes it for us too...well, to a point at least 😉. I'll go as far as to say that Harrison might be a symbol of the best America, the one that I hope will rear its head again - the one that learns to trust and welcome the stranger, no matter how alien they look at a first glance. If you look past the face value, Harrison's bond with Glimmer - an opinionated, wise-cracking pixie with a heart of gold - can be read that way. [...]

NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE

The earliest story from which Prelude to Mayhem originated pretty much centered around Harrison's quest. Now the narrative is split between him and 14 y.o. Dorothy, seemingly alone in a post-apocalyptic Oz (she will even find her own version of the infamous ruby slippers 😉), but with a few aces up her sleeve. Though her previous home situation (and high IQ) sure is to be accounted for the courage and ingenuity she faces her new reality with, one might be tempted to think she's too good to be true. Still, we soon are to learn that Dorothy is not your classic tough-as-steel heroine. She has her own weak spots, and some funny ones as well. She can be more mature than her age while still sounding believable as a 14 y.o. girl. The author did a great job of getting in her shoes. I'm really glad her character has been expanded since the original novel came out.

MAGIC ROUNDABOUT

Edward Aubry is a math teacher and - obviously - a lover of science, which I assume is accurately represented in his books. But he can weave magic in his stories like the best of them. There are a few creative types of (mostly dark) magic in this novel (though, if magic is kept at bay by technology, I'm not sure how they can cohexist in some instances - like the train incident). There are also creatures from parallel universes (like Glimmer) that clashed with ours, and threats that aren't necessarily posed by your usual sentient creatures...

MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS

Small headache: why does the radio Harrison listens to only play oldies, if the DJ is from a different age range? Even if she doesn't actually select the music, I would have expected more variety at least. Just a small issue, but it felt a little odd. I have more pertinent questions, though. Like I said, I'm a little confused about the strenght of the mutual exclusivity between science and magic, though I suppose some explanation will be given in the sequel(s). Also, it's a bit convenient that, while the vast majority of the populace AND places have vanished (or, talking about the latter, sometimes collapsed), Harrison and his travelling companions can find enough shelter (not to mention electricity and running water) along the way. But, like I said, this is not your classic survival story. Lastly, I'm a bit confused as to why someone would go to great lenghts in order to sabotage Harrison's quest - but again, I suppose the answer will come later in the series. Which I think will satisfy the tastes of many different types of readers, minus 1) those looking for romance and 2) those who have trouble suspending disbelief, or favour a more straightforward type of story.

For my "Static Mayhem" review (second installment in this series) click here.
For my review of Edward Aubry's book "Unhappennings" click here.
For my interview with Edward Aubry click here.
For more books that defy categories click here.
Liked this book? You might also be interested in B.C. Johnson: "Riven" (previously titled "The Bad Rescue of Devon Streeter"); E.S. Wesley: "The Outs".

About the Author:

Edward Aubry is a graduate of Wesleyan University, with a degree in music composition. Improbably, this preceded a career as a teacher of high school mathematics and creative writing.
Over the last few years, he has gradually transitioned from being a teacher who writes novels on the side to a novelist who teaches to support his family. He is also a poet, his sole published work in that form being the sixteen stanza “The History of Mathematics.”
He now lives in rural Pennsylvania with his wife and three spectacular daughters, where he fills his non-teaching hours spinning tales of time-travel, wise-cracking pixies, and an assortment of other impossible things.

Find Edward Aubry Online:

2 comments:

  1. It is hard to find new twists to the genre. I've pretty much avoided it for a few years because of that but I'm dipping my toes back in.

    Polite dynosaurs?? lol I'm intrigued.

    https://www.facebook.com/For-What-Its-Worth-290788459273/

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    Replies
    1. The dyno only makes a short appearance, but he's funny (still potentially dangerous, but funny). And I pretty much avoid books with magical creatures (like pixies), but Aubry was able to make me empathise with this one.

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