August 23, 2012
Yield by Bryan K. Johnson
I wasn't sure what to make of this book at first. It started slow, wasn't my normal reading style, but as I continued it I felt myself being drawn more and more into the story. Enough that I definitely would like to read the other books that will come in the series.
Yield is a futuristic take on America and what could happen to its citizens in a tragic event. More specifically, it offers up a third world war kind of situation, with all the modern elements that we take for granted today that weren't in the first world wars. There are three main sets of characters that the storyline revolves around. The first and foremost being a group of people who were on a plane when bombs struck nearby Seattle. The survivors band together and try to make their way back to Portland, where most of them have family. One of these characters, a fireman named Devin, has a family in Portland around which the book also tells a little of the story and how they are coping in a city not hit by the bombs. And the third group, are media news people, who were in Seattle at the time of the attack and want desperately to broadcast what's happening there to the rest of America. All of these people have to fight for survival in a now hostile Seattle with several unsavory people roaming the streets with them. Food, shelter, and protection are a must as well and not easily come by.
I like most of the characters in this book. Especially those with Devin in the primary group. It was easy to see that they were given the most attention and detail by the author. In contrast, while the other groups were ok, I just didn't feel as interested in them and their storyline and actually would have preferred that the book not be split into sections and stuck with the main group. But they did provide some kind of background to some of the characters. Devin especially was interesting, and while he had some problems, he seemed to be an all around good guy. The rest of the group followed suit being decent individuals. There aren't really bad guys per say in this book. At least not reoccurring ones. There are the people that dropped the bombs, but they're still mostly a mystery as far as motivation and specifics. There are the wild people roaming the streets, who don't stay in the book long and there's also just everyday people, who by being themselves offer conflict. So it's a varied group but with no one for certain that we can hate as an antagonist. Which since we're rooting for Devin and the gang anyway, it doesn't seem to matter what adversaries they face.
I enjoyed the plot and premise of this book. The "what if" kind of scenarios are always intriguing, although I genuinely hope this is nothing like what our future could turn out to be. That being said, I did have some issues with the way the book was written. I almost lost interest in the first part of the book because there was just too much build up. It got tedious and I wasn't really enjoying myself, luckily that switched as I stuck it through and the book got very interesting. Almost to the point of hard to put down interesting. I also wasn't a big fan of the use of present tense. There's very few books that can get away with using present tense successfully and while this one was readable, I'm not sure it was the best choice. It can make things seem more urgent, but it can also make books read somewhat stilted as well. There is violence in this book, cussing, and other things that some people could find offensive, but hey, it's a book about violence, you kind of have to expect that. If that's not your thing, you shouldn't be reading it. I happened to think it made it more realistic.
I'll definitely look out for the next in the series (although I'll be secretly hoping it switches to past tense). Should be an interesting read and I'm looking forward to what happens to the characters.