WARNING: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS. I normally don’t do spoilers in my reviews, but I felt I needed to explain more fully why I am reviewing this book the way I am, so minor spoilers are included.
I’m torn on this book. Sergio Gomez has a strong contender for a good read. The story flows nicely (for the most part) and the characters are well-developed. I read as long as I could, which was about to 50%. I will even set this one aside into my “to be explored again later” pile. Alejandro, Charlie, and John are all characters that have depth. You can see the changes in Alejandro brought on by the situation he finds himself in after The Chaos. You can see Charlie growing up, a little faster than a child in a normal situation would. And you can see John struggling with his own decisions and grief. There are a few issues that made this book something I need to put down, though.
1. The vignettes. I’m not sure why they’re there. If they’re only to show people in other parts of the US during this time, it’d be nice if they were in a more predictable spot: The beginning of one of the parts of the book would be best. Instead, one is interspersed with the main narrative, causing the reader to spend the next 3-4 chapters looking for the character introduced to show up. Maybe he does later? At that rate, though, saving the vignette for later would be prudent.
2. Gomez has some serious timeline issues. SERIOUS. At one point, he talks about a car sitting for a year that starts right away. I am pretty certain Gomez says it’s been about a year since the chaos. So why are the characters looking for meat in towns? Why are they finding bread in dumpsters? Perishable foods should be the way of the past. Except, that despite a decimation of the population, the power grid is still working. Without anybody to maintain the plants, power would be one of the first things to go. I know this. My husband is almost a prepper (I say almost because we haven’t actually invested in solar or wind energy tech, yet). At one point, Alejandro finds an abandoned cassette player (right?) that is STILL playing and has been playing for at least 2 days. But it appears to have been abandoned hours or days before hand. That’s a mighty big tape. The longest play time of a cassette was on a C120, or 60 minutes per side.
4. What happened that the population is so diminished? There are hints at war, but nothing in the world-building indicates a nuclear war happened. There are hints that Los Noches helped, but even people would have enough warning with them to start to defend themselves.
5. How much ammo does Alejandro have? He’s pretty loose with it, which I would NOT be if I had a limited supply. I’m assuming that gun shops and armories would have been looted, and he does have a limited supply. But he takes Charlie out and teaches him to shoot using live ammo.
6. If you still have power, the population is decimated, and cars miraculously still start after not running for a year…Why are Alejandro and Charlie walking?! They came from an urban area. I’m pretty sure they could have found a car. Siphon gas, if you need to. There would be cars in garages and on the roads all over the place.
7. Why are they having issues finding drinkable water? They use the faucet (again with the no population, but utilities are working) in the pizza place to wash. A year after the collapse of society, and I’d be bathing in streams. And boiling stream water or using purifying tablets and drinking that. There is no indication that the world is not habitable, with lots of descriptions of rain and lush forests. So why aren’t they collecting rain or drinking from streams?
There are a lot of little details that need to be smoothed out and edited before this book becomes something my brain doesn’t stutter over. I didn’t have to look these up. These are seriously things that are on my mind every time I open this book. There are so many issues with the plot that I had to stop reading. Things don’t make sense with the timeline and the story becomes less enjoyable and my ability to suspend disbelief is tried to the breaking point.
What Gomez does really well is blending the Spanish and English into a smoothly believable dialogue for somebody who is bilingual. There is easy explanation as to why they characters switch back and forth that doesn’t feel like an info-dump and fits into the story. His characters are vibrant and alive. Whether it’s the bum at the fire or Alejandro as he walks down the road, you have zero issues seeing these characters as very flawed, but still human. You have no problem feeling horror at the descriptions of the brutality of Los Noches, though their origins remain shrouded in mystery. What Gomez does well, he does extremely well and I wish that his devotion to character building translated into world-building. This could be a truly spectacular book.
Grab your copy of Sergio Gomez’s The Chaos by clicking the image below.
I received a copy of this book and volunteered to review it.