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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Review: Predators of Darkness: Aftermath + GIVEAWAY!

What Book Is That Giveaway Carnival!

Predators of Darkness: AftermathTitle: Predators of Darkness: Aftermath
Author: Leonard D. Hilley II
Page Count: 536 KB (Kindle format)
Publisher: self-published
Genre: science fiction, thriller
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review


Fear What Lurks In The Shadows

The desolate streets of downtown Pittsburgh in 2073 are a reminder of the missile attack that forever changed the lives of the surviving scientists and students hidden in the fallout shelter of Helmsby's Genetic Research Center. Believing themselves to be the only survivors, they station themselves inside the center until food supplies near depletion. Thinking the fallout has lessened, they emerge three years later to discover strange creatures patrolling the streets in search of human flesh and blood. The creatures possess the ability to shift their genomes and alter their appearances by realigning their genetic sequences. Daniel Hutchinson, their leader, teams with Lucas Ridale and together they set out to scavenge the area for food and supplies with the hope to find other survivors. But Daniel's most recent journey uncovers mysteries more frightening than the shifters. He discovers the tip of Pittsburgh has been fenced off from the rest of the area. Low-flying helicopters observe the streets, making him ponder the question: Were the shifters released as simply part of a military experiment with humans being their prey?

Have you ever read a book that, when you finished it, you had to check all the doors and windows? Reading Predators of Darkness: Aftermath was like that.  It's a post-apocalyptic thriller where nightmarish creatures hunt human survivors in the streets and nobody knows where their next meal or breath is coming from.

These creatures that are so problematic and endemic in the story are referred to as shifters, but don't let that term imply some kind of cuddly secret society or misunderstood group of dudes looking to be understood.  These are genetic experiments gone horribly wrong, and they want to eat you and leave nothing left.  One of the critical elements in this story involves the human survivors and one of their leaders, Daniel, having to figure out for themselves if all of these creatures are truly "bad," if anything that exists purely on instincts can be viewed that way, or if there's something more to the story.

With enemies at the gates and a conspiracy afoot (just how did the shifters manage to start running the streets of Pittsburgh anyway, and what if it wasn't an accident?) the few survivors living in a bomb shelter under a genetics lab have enough to worry about, but they have their own infighting and drama to deal with too.  Each character is struggling to keep body and soul together in the face of ever-worsening odds, and just like in any high pressure situation, some people rise and some people fall, and true colors are shown all around.  Everyone assumes that they're the only ones with ulterior motives or the only ones running a con; needless to say, that's not the case.

I admit that I found the struggles against the environment and the bigger conspiracy to be way more interesting than the infighting and maneuvering for position that occurs inside the bunker.  Daniel and Lucas, our fearless leaders, don't always think with their big heads, if you know what I mean, and it leads to some bad decisions and convenient ignoring of the facts that in turn cause some big problems for our motley crew.  The character Lydia, especially, should have raised some questions for everyone, and indeed a few people do question what's going on with her, but the folks in charge don't see important details right away for sure.

The plot thickens, and thickens quickly.  Spies have infiltrated the bomb shelter.  More dastardly genetic experiments are in the works.  What seems true may not be, on the inside or the outside.  There is a talking cat.  Through it all, the reader has to keep alert to keep up with the twisting, turning plot and the incredible detail.  It bears mentioning that this is the first story in a trilogy, so not all details get wrapped up tidily here at the end, and questions about morality and its origin are raised; it will certainly be interesting to see how these questions get answered in future installments.

This is a seriously creepy book, with the perfect combination of "they're coming to eat you" creature feature with "don't go in the basement" horror.  The best post-apocalyptic or dystopian stories for me are the ones that strike as truly plausible, so if you don't mind, I need to go make sure the doors are locked again.

Leonard Hilley II has graciously offered up two digital copies of Predators of Darkness: Aftermath to two lucky participants in the giveaway carnival!  To enter, fill out the form below.  Don't forget to comment on the July 1st Why Read Indie Books? post for an added shot at the $25 Amazon gift card!  Make sure you comment on that specific post to have your entry counted towards the giveaway (use the links on the sidebar to navigate there.)
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