Saturday, January 4, 2014

Review: One Thousand and One Nights by Ruth Browne

Title: One Thousand and One Nights
Author: Ruth Browne
Series: N/A
Genre: Post Apocalyptic Fiction
Release Date: 30 September 2013

Sheri spends her days fighting zombies and her nights chained to a wall, earning her every breath by telling stories to her captor Aleksy — stories that make them both forget the ruined world. Sheri could put up with the conditions — at least she knows her sister is safe in the community Aleksy leads — until she realizes she’s falling for him...even though he wants her dead.

When Aleksy allowed Sheri and her sister into his compound, he didn't know about the zombie bite on her back. It's only a matter of time before she turns into one of the rising dead and threatens their existence, but Aleksy has a secret need for Sheri and her stories. For everyone's safety, he chains her to his bedroom wall, hoping for just one more day. But how long will the community allow Aleksy to ignore his own rule: always kill the infected. Always.

I'm not even sure where to start with this. I requested this book for review because I loved the idea of a Scheherazade retelling. Sometime between when I requested it and when I opened the file on my Kindle tonight, I forgot it was in a post-apocalyptic setting with zombies because I was very confused at first. My own fault though, and quickly rectified when I glanced at the blurb again.

I'm going to start with the biggest problem for me: Aleksy's been keeping Sheri CHAINED in his bedroom, by the throat, for nearly FOUR months! One time, in the book, she's chained so tightly that she can only squat near the wall - no rest for her legs, knees, back, ankles, feet - and anytime her head droops with sleepiness, the collar chokes her. And she's attracted to this guy?

I kind of get the caution - she's been bitten, and the bite's still healing, maybe she's going to turn and then she's a danger to everyone. But she's not mindless yet, obviously, because she's telling you stories. Why the ever-living-heck do you have to treat her like garbage? Water but no food, chained day and night, punished for the most minor things.

But Sheri keeps coming back. That's right, she gets let out of the compound to go look for more stories. Granted, she does have her sister there, but honestly she gave up hope of the people ever trusting her, and she hardly ever got to see her sister - she was kept secluded from her. So what's the effing point??

Like the stories Scheherazade told, there are tales within tales in this book. We jump back in the timeline more than a few times to learn more about Sheri and Aleksy and how they came to be the people they are at the point of the true story. Unfortunately this usually just irritated me and I ended up skimming. Also, I got irritated when I had to keep reading the stories that she was telling Aleksy. I wouldn't have minded small bits, but there were pages and pages of them - I've read Sinbad, I've read the Brothers Grimm tales, I don't need to read them again.

And this is completely nit-picky, but I seriously can't stand it when people include guns in their novels and they either don't know how they work or don't know how to describe it properly. There was one point where Sheri's shotgun made a "click-click" noise - I'm not sure why - and had a leather holster - most shotgun holsters aren't leather. Then there's the time when she takes the same shotgun, after they're in zombie territory, and loads it - pumping it to eject the empty shell. Why wasn't it loaded in the first place? And pump action shotguns don't make a clicking noise, that's too tame a word for it. Like I said, nitpicky.

There was a point, at about 45% into the book, that I was starting to get into it. I was invested in Sheri's life and how things were resolved for her. I was ignoring the things that bothered me, and hoping the resolution to Aleksy keeping her caged would be redeemed. Then I hit the end and it all went to hell. After a quick sex scene we're treated to her giving an ultimatum - I leave or you let me live without the chain - and no answer from Aleksy but him thinking she'd already stolen his heart.

Give me a freaking break.

Grade: D-

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