This is my first time experiencing one of Jeff Menapace works, it appears he is better known for his horror genre books, so “Cling”, a part of the Cling Series, is a bit of a departure being a post-apocalyptic thriller. The book is co-authored by Kim Bravo and the Audible narration is done superbly by Gary Tiedemann. If you are a fan of Mr. Menapace horror books, you may find this one not as much to your liking as there were little horror elements. Although the book can be dark at times, is more focused a telling the story and backstory of the main characters developing the first in a series. It should be noted that the book does not contain any zombies (yet) as many assume them to be a part of a post-apocalyptic world. I have to give thanks to the authors for not including them. Imagine a blending of Mad Max, Waterworld (the good parts), and Defiance and you get just a glimmer of what you will experience in Cling. If you are looking for a well told story with characters you grow to know and enjoy, I think Cling may be a book you will want to pick up. Note this book is part of a series and the book ends rather open ended with a few plot lines left hanging. If this does not bother you, go and listen to Cling
The story opens in a way that immediately draws you in and keeps you engaged until the end. I do not mean to say that it is all action with no substance, not at all. The book has a good balance of character and world development along with some points of intense action. The characters themselves had a good amount of interaction, humor, and banter between one another making them more life-like. I would assume growing up in such a world would make someone more like that. I have to give the author and co-author credit for going outside their comfort zone to write a book that might not appeal to their current readers, but it brings in a whole new type of reader to discover their works. I felt they did an exceptional job being this is their entry in to writing a post-apocalyptic thriller.
With that said, I will add that there are many of the standard tropes one would expect in this genre of book, but the authors also included some more unique concepts that helped me to enjoy the book and keep it interesting even more than I initially expected. I felt the world created was believable, however I would have like to have had more sections devoted to learning the backstory of how, when, why, and where the characters were in this environment. I think this would have helped me to better relate to them and their situations. I hope this will be a bigger portion of future books in the series. Even though I would have like to have had more backstory, the authors did a good job of describing the scenes along with any action so I could imagine them in my head while listening. The dependency upon cricket for much of one’s protein was something I cringed every time I heard it, but it made me think more than once of the abundance of food and tastes we often take for granted in our daily lives. I found the reliance upon the relationships they created and built along with the unique special powers some of the characters possessed made the book all that more interesting.
For the parent or younger reader, be aware this book is more intended for older readers; in my opinion. There are places where vulgar words are sprinkled here and there. Not heavily used, but be aware you will come across them. There is also some crude adult humor and references or discussions around alcohol, drugs, and sex. These appear to mostly be used to describe the bleak and grim world the characters are a part of. Most if not all of these references could have been removed without impacting the book’s plots. Again, the above is not used as much as others book in the genre have done. If you are easily offended by any of the above, you may want to look elsewhere.
Let me say that I felt that Gary Tiedemann did an excellent job narrating this book. It comes as no surprise as he is a veteran narrator with over one-hundred book to his name; at the time of this review. His voice was rich and had a slight dark tone making the book all that more immersive. There were no issues with the audio and no noticeable artifacts such as swallowing, edits, or volume issues. Simply a clean and professionally produced work. This is my first time listening to this narrator and I would have to listen to more to give you a good idea of his overall work. I will say that after listening to this book, I will be looking at some of his others.
In summary, if you are one who likes well-crafted post-apocalyptic thrillers I recommend you pick up Cling. If you are a person who does not like having to wait for the next book in a series to be released or book that have opened-ended plot lines, I suggest you wait until at least one more in the series is available. I also felt the ending was a bit rushed compared to the time spent leading up to the climax, but this may be more because of how the second book in the series picks up. I overall enjoyed the book, and I think you will also.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.