Rise of Howlers caught me by surprise.
YA dystopians have exploded over the years and in some ways the genre has become overfloded, so I didn't have high expectations. But I was pleasantly surprised. Rise of Howlers is a well thought out novel about a group of survivors living aboard a cruise ship after meteors have hit the earth and basicially destroyed it. Upon impact the meteors released a bacteria that turned humans into zombie like creatures; the survivors call them 'howlers' because of the loud noise they make.
I liked that we got to meet a diverse cast of characters and hear all their stories without feeling overflooded, and you feel something for each of them. Nick and Harper are a great team and the story of how they meet and fall for eachother is amazing, and I believe destined to become one of those YA super couples that everyone falls for.
If you love cool YA and dystopian you'll totally dig this one.
Bob Bannon’s novel for young adults, Rise of Howlers, is a rather slow-moving, post-apocalyptic story of a group of survivors from a meteor shower that has devastated the entire world. Set in and off the coast of an abandoned California, the tale is of a ship full of men, women and families who need to stay and work together in the face of starvation and the danger of ‘howlers’ – mutants or zombies (think, ‘Walking Dead’, though, the author is adamant that they haven’t yet died). Each time a team off the boat that houses them (‘The Swan’ – a luxury liner) scouts the mainland for survivors, useful firearms, equipment, and food, they need to be alert to the danger of the howlers who attack without warning. Can they manage to keep everyone safe in this environment?
The narrative is nicely written, though a bit slow. The story and characters are a tad stereotyped – to the point of making me wonder if I’ve read it before (which I hadn’t, by the way). Nick Moran and Harper Chin are the two teenagers who show amazing ability and resilience in the face of dangerous situations. Hal Mann has helped ‘parent’ Nick, helped him to fight, and helped his ‘anger problem’. Captain Lewis is a tough guy, decisive in action. Mister Crowley, the chief engineer, Mr Ortiz his right-hand man. Some of the flashbacks and the descriptions are a little over-populated by detail; but there is a fine sense throughout of the necessary organization and structure on board in stark contrast to the abandonment and chaos that reigns off the ship.
The book takes a time to reach the climax – caused by a distress signal from a mysterious ‘family’ on a nearby island – a climax that is generally worth the wait! Nicely written, as I say; well-rounded characters with real history that matters; good dialogue – well worth the read!
Although Rise of Howlers is targeted as a young adult novel, I found itreadable and enjoyable as very much not a young adult. The universalthemes of friendship, love, family, self-discipline, and cooperation are applicable to readers of all ages. Author Bob Bannon's writing style is relaxed and simple, making the book extremely enjoyable. The highlight of the story, for me anyway, was the sweet, developingrelationship between Nick and Harper. Both of them had suffered greatlosses and serious pain in their short seventeen years, but they hadfinally found each other and were slowly opening up and sharing theirinnermost thoughts, which was excellent. I think Bannon did a wonderfuljob of balancing the action with the softer, sweeter moments of the story.
His story provides us with an intriguing read and a fresh take on theso-called zombie genre. The mutants, however, remain more a backdrop to the daily doings of the characters as they strive not only to survive, but to maintain some predictable normalcy in their confined community.Much of the book describes the concerns of the teens, Nick and Harper, and their peers, but Bannon never allows adolescent angst to overwhelmthe story, nor does it become the gore fest so common in this kind ofstory. Rise of Howlers is an entertaining read and comes recommended.
This is a spellbinding story that will send chills down readers' spines. Rise of Howlers features great prose, offers great images of thesetting, and builds a conflict upon which the story hinges, a crisisthat readers will be keen to follow as it evolves. Rise of Howlers isboth entertaining and gripping.
Rise of Howlers has won the Honorable Mention in the 2018 readersfavorite.com awards in the Young Adult / Horror genre