Review requested by the author.
Jayson’s and Jule’s peaceful lives are interrupted one day by an appearance of sinkholes in the ground and terrifying creatures that climb out of the holes and kill everyone on sight. Zombies? Aliens? Savage dwarves?
None of the terms above seems to apply to the Uglies, as Jayson starts to call them. A bunch of them attack their apartment and together with his wife and neighbours, they barely make it out of there and drive off to rescue their families. As their journey continues, they pick up quite a few diverse characters on the way. Once they make it to Jule’s parents’ house, things take an even stranger turn. Will the humanity be able to survive the attack of the Uglies? And who even are they? And what’s up with Jayson’s very… strange neighbour?
“The Emergence” is the first installment in A.O. Khalil’s Missing Era series, which the author self-published this year. I can definitely say that this is one of the few self-published novels that hooked me from the very beginning – the prologue. It indicates that the book takes place a couple of years from now and from the first page, it’s clear that humanity continues to screw with nature and the world is still a terrible place. Jayson and Jule are your normal American married couple in their early 30s, and they clearly have a great partnership. Throughout the novel, both of them, together with various other characters, display themselves from many sides, reasons for which were occasionally unclear, but the plot and the pacing made up for the abundance of characters and admittedly very few editorial mistakes. The author makes a great attempt at diversifying the female characters of the book – Jule, Jayson’s twin sisters, Jule’s mother and others – but Jayson’s first-person narrative does seem to put them under certain labels. The characters are not the book’s strongest suit – that would be the pacing and the plot. Although it could have had a little less dialogue and slightly fewer exclamations of how Jayson wants to impress his wife.
Up to the last chapter, the reader believes that the Uglies are the biggest threat to the planet, but it is then revealed that there are worse things to come, serving as a setup for the next book in the Missing Era series. The book sort of ends on a cliffhanger, which is a great way to end a self-published novel in my opinion and maintain an interest in the series. This plot twist makes for a very interesting concept (at least in theory). Also the author put a little riddle at the final page – which is also fun! (although I don’t know the answer). Overall, it’s a decent sci-fi thriller that sometimes tries to be something else, but fails.
“I’d never have thought that we would end up together in the same basement after fighting our way through waves of demented dwarves.”
“So we’re under attack by dwarves with health and physical complicationd? How did we allow this to happen?”
You might enjoy “The Emergence” if you liked:
“World War Z” by Max Brooks
“The Walking Dead”