Friday, April 05, 2013

Review: Chasers by James Phelan

Posted by

 James Phelan
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic
Publication date: October 30th 2012
by K-Teen

Four Teenagers.
One Destroyed City.
Thousands of
Infected Predators.

Jesse is on a UN Youth Ambassadors camp in New York when his subway carriage is rocked by an explosion. Jesse and his three friends, Dave, Mini and Anna, crawl out from the wreckage to discover a city in chaos.

Streets are deserted. Buildings are in ruins. Worse, the only other survivors seem to be infected with a virus that turns them into horrifying predators…

Outnumbered. No sign of life. Just them. And you… ALONE.

A copy was provided by Kensington Teen for review

Wow I haven’t had an ending catch me this off guard in a long time! Well played, Phelan! Well played! Almost grabbed you a 4 stars, there!

Alas, the book isn’t without its flaws. There could have been more action to stir things up, more Chasers for sure, and a LOT more answers even for a first book in a series–we basically learn nothing of what happened, why, or how far this apocalypse spans. All we know, is that Jesse and his friends got off the subway after an explosion and the whole city is in shambles. The only “survivors” they meet are these infected humans who have a strange unending thirst for anything drinkable, which includes blood. As a post apocalyptic book I can say this is quite different. They’re far from vampires, but also pretty far from being zombies, so what we get is the always scary unknown. We don’t know what caused it or what they really need, exactly, and if they can recover–though we do get intriguing developments on their parts. I thought this was done well and I couldn’t quench my thirst (ha!) for answers fast enough, leaving me to fly through this book in no time. Thus it’s unfortunate that we don’t at least get a hint of what caused this bizarre set of circumstances that add up to what seems to be the apocalypse. At least it’s only book 1!

Since we get no answers you’re probably wondering what the book shells out. Well this book is more about surviving in the early days of a disaster such as described than anything. We don’t get a lot of crazy thrills or heart pounding sieges, we basically hole up in 30 Rock with our characters. I didn’t mind this as much as other reviewers, it seems. It kind of reminded me of This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers, where the book is very tame in action, but heavy with the fear of the unknown in addition to having a strong psychological base. This one may not be as psychologically messed up, but we do see glimpses of Jesse’s mental instability pop up towards the end especially. As for the fear of the unknown, I think not knowing if and when these strange beings will be hanging out and about gives the book a lot of tension. I personally enjoy these types of survival books more than those that are filled with nothing more than cheap thrills. So yes, the book is slow paced as far as “infected” action goes, but I can’t say I was bored for a minute while reading it. The fascinating nature of the plot kept me captivated. In the end, I’m thankful for the character driven plot that we got in this first novel and I think it will add up to a much stronger sequel as well, knowing what we know now. It makes for a very realistic representation of someone’s psychological profile in such a terrifying situation.

I appreciated the NYC setting a lot too. It’s a setting that’s familiar, maybe a little overused, but what better way to show the monstrosity of an emptiness like Jesse is experiencing? When you’re alone in New York City, you’re truly and undeniably alone. I think the author may have gone a little overboard trying to bring this setting to life, though. With mentions of every street corner, every building, every sight, it becomes a little tiring unless you actually live in the area and are able to follow these details. Otherwise it’s simply blah blah that you come to ignore. It’s not like it makes a difference if I know that our characters are on 7th street, or on 59th, all I need to know is how far they have to run, eh?

I think this is one instance that would work better if it was made into one large stand-alone novel, instead of 3 short (230 pages) books. I guess one argument for it being so short is that the slow pacing never has time to bore, but it did leave time to ponder and get impatient for answers. I will definitely be reading the sequels, I did really enjoy it despite it not being perfect–this is the type of apocalypse that fascinates me for real. You’re suddenly in a world that just went poof! With that said, I’m thinking the series, when finished, will be better rated than its individual installments. Either way, the ending of this one alone is brilliant, thus worth the read! At least I think so!

3 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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22 Responses to “Review: Chasers by James Phelan”

  1. Amy

    This sounds like a really great post apocalyptic book. Though you don’t really get to know the how and why of it all, it is just the start of a series, so I guess that’s a way to get people coming back for more. I like a good fast paced read so I think I would really enjoy this. And not Vampires, but not Zombies, just an odd unknown creature?!! Sounds awesome! Great review hon!

    • Amy

      Haha! Random thought after I posted my first comment. It kind of looks like he’s wearing a diaper on the cover, the way the “Alone” thing is placed. Okay, that’s all. Just thought that was a bit funny.

    • Giselle

      Bwahaha Christina was the first to point it out to me when I got this book in my STS and now it’s all that I see, too! I hope they change it. I did see different covers on Goodreads but I’m not sure if they’re the new ones or older.

  2. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Diaper book! I just can’t take this cover seriously. I’m happy that they changed it, the new one is so much better. I love that the beings that are walking around are fresh and new. It seems like it’s always the same ol’ zombie nowadays so something new is definitely welcome. I loved TiNAT so I can’t wait to read this one, I have no problem holing up with my characters as they try to survive, I like to see what that brings out in people. Speaking of which, I really have to get around to reading Monument 14…

  3. Christina

    Why does his diaper say Alone? Is it the brand? Or is it to imply that he has nothing else to DEPEND(S) on with regards to his horrible incontinence problems? I honestly cannot take this book seriously.

    30 Rock? Like with Tina Fey and Alan Baldwin? O_o

  4. Kristin@BloodSweatandBooks

    Omg I never realized that looked like a diaper. I had many of the same feelings about this book that you did. I think its rated fairly considering not much really happens. I have the second book in the series to review but haven’t started it yet.

  5. Kelley (Another Novel Read)

    Ooooh, this sounds like the kind of book my husband would like. He’s fascinated with that kind of post-apocalyptic story where you have to learn how to survive and so many things are unknown. I’m going to tell him to check out this series. 😀

  6. Alexa Y.

    Okay, first of all, it’s set in NEW YORK CITY, which is automatically something that makes it interesting to me. While I do try to be careful about the post-apocalyptic stuff I read, I’m intrigued by the fact that the thing they’re afraid of isn’t particularly defined – that could make for a really creepy book!

  7. Shooting Stars Mag

    Thanks for your honest thoughts! Even though you don’t get a lot of answers in this one, I think I’d be okay with that…especially since it IS a series and it makes sense to hold out on some things. Hopefully more is revealed in the second book though, and it’s not just a place-holder novel. Curious about this ending!!


  8. Sirtsu

    It seems like he’s wearing a diaper or a skirt on that cover. LOL. Anyway, as for your review, I’m all about unexpected (in a good way) and surprises in books. Not so much in real life. I think it sounds good and I didn’t even know about this one until you brought it to my attention. I’d love to go to NYC one day and I devour every book that’s set there. I’m going to look around for more reviews and then make up my mind about reading it. I’m not sure it’s exactly my cup of tea, but I’d love to read something different and this seems like it’d be a thrilling read. Thanks for your thoughts, Giselle 🙂

  9. Candace

    I don’t think I even heard of this before. I’m not sure if it’s one I’d read anyways, but I am a bit curious. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  10. Eileen

    My favorite things about your reviews: the first lines because they are SO funny! Seriously, I don’t know how you keep thinking of them! *tries to steal your brain* *puts it back because without it then there’d be no more Giselle*

    I’m sorry you didn’t love this one, but I’m glad you still liked it! I’m not sure how I feel about the focus being moer on the drama and psychology, and with the and the lack of answers, but it’s good that it does make the book go by faster! The NYC setting is kind of intriguing although it’s pretty common at this point. But it sounds like a bittersweet point with the familiarity and the unfamiliarity…if that makes any sense.

    I don’t really know where I’m going with this comment.

    Great review, as always!

  11. Micheline D

    That alone diaper thing is really odd…like they couldn’t find another way or place to write that he was alone? Oh wait, they said so on top of his head: no survivors. Anyways, I may have judged this one cause I remember seeing it around but never really being attracted to it. I like how it took you by surprise AND how the ending alone makes it worth the read 😀 Made me super curious now… I’ll be looking out for your review of the next one to see how it holds up!! Awesome review.

  12. Mel@Thedailyprophecy

    I like the sound of the zombie/vampires (sort of zompires :P?) and the setting. It’s a shame that the world-building lacks, because I hate it when I have many unanswered questions. I really liked This is not a test though, so your reference to that book makes me curious. I might pick it up some day 🙂


  13. James Phelan

    Thanks for the review Giselle 🙂

    I made a new years resolution to try and get onto the net and interact a bit more, so here I am… happy to answer some questions etc about the book.

    Re the cover, I totally agree that the “ALONE logo” was badly placed — I’d have much preferred to see it as a large watermark over the whole image, ie kind of translucent to the point of being almost not there at all. This cover is for the US/Canadian version, and the other covers peeps are referring to are probably the UK and Australian ones. I’d say the UK ones are my fav’s so far — see here:

    I wrote this novel in 2008, as an antidote to my 3rd thriller for adults, BLOOD OIL, which was really dark and angry. Also, when deciding to write YA as a break from my main writing gig as a thriller author, I had a whole bunch of meetings with my agents and publishers. As they represent and publish Stephenie Meyer, I’ve seen her series grow from idea/inception to publishing phenomenon, and I wanted to write something for teens that in a sense put the fangs back into a paranormal type storyline. Plus, I wanted teens to have something good to read 😉

    “CHASERS” does not tell us much about what happened etc because it’s first person POV, and there’s only Jesse to tell us what’s going on. As there’s no outside contact, he can’t know any more than what he sees and hears for himself (my editor wanted me to have him get a radio contact to tell him what happened outside etc, but to me that seemed like a crappy cliche). From book 2, “SURVIVOR”, Jesse meets a bunch of other people. This first book I wanted to explore what it really means to be alone, and Jesse’s journey follows the psychological stages of grief (kinda hard to talk about more without giving the revelation at the end away). Some people hate the ending, but thankfully it’s sold really well around the world and, fingers crossed, we’re ever inching closer to a TV series being made (though I’ve long learned not to hold my breath with film/tv development). My publishers are hassling me for 3 more books, from other character’s POV’s, but we’ll see.

    Well, that’s it from me – back to my next YA and thriller deadlines.