Dark Days by Kate Ormand

DarkDays-3oct13Expected publication: June 3rd 2014 by Sky Pony Press

Dark Days is not a long read. The story flies by in 250 hardcover pages and left no lasting impression on me. It was very similar to The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker as it too features a young girl faced with the decision of how to go on for the remaining time left to live. But whereas The Age of Miracles was a stunning, unforgettable and intense futuristic young adult fiction about the last days on Earth, Dark Days only falls flat and ultimately digresses to the usual Young Adult misconceptions of insta-love, lazy world-building and bad writing.

A world that makes no fucking sense … at all! It’s a shame so many authors these days put no effort at all into world-building. Dark Days follows YA clichés like a pro: Earth as we know it doesn’t exist any longer. There was some kind of a totally unexplained “natural disaster” a few years/decades/centuries (totally not mentioned in order to avoid info-dumping) back and only a few have survived. For their own good the survivors were put into closed of sectors (kind of your usual suburbia surrounded by thick walls. There is conformity, restricted freedom, censorship, key life choices (like work assignment) are decided for you by some totalitarian, far-far-away government and of course there is constant surveillance.  Very original, indeed! Now this sectors are going to be eliminated just because a totally random guy had an idea of a new world. People are selected to join; the other 90% are going to be destroyed by a cyborg army. I don’t get it? Why is it necessary to kill 90% of the people in the sectors? Why not just leave them to their own devices? And there is this big clock counting down the days and hours until the Cyborg army arrives. Makes no sense at all. Why not just surprise the hell out of the people with an attack? Why give them the possibility to group and rebel?

The world in Dark Days is painfully one-dimensional and more than a little logically handicapped. There was virtually no world-building and NOTHING was ever adequately explained and the logic behind the concept was so full of holes that it was basically Emmenthaler cheese.

The future world has been divided into sectors – each the same as the other. Surrounded by thick steel fences, there is no way in and no way out (…)

Those sectors are practically small or large villages with factories, schools and hospitals. Sia, our main female character, has never seen crushed flowers in her hands or climbed trees. Everything in her sector is grey. Yet, how come she eats fucking oatmeal every morning, bagels, pancakes and juice !!!!!!???????!!!!!! She has a flowery shampoo to wash. Where does this all come from? Synthetic?

Her mother takes her own life as the countdown to complete destruction (15 days remain) progresses. And the next morning Sia wakes up and dead Mom … forgotten, impending death … forgotten, best friend with problems … forgotten, hot guy … yeah that is important! Right, put on make-up, describe in detail what you are going to wear and how you are wearing your hair and progress to have your stupid thoughts about how you “crave” him already after seeing him for 2 times. Mace, hot 18-year old boy, heavily tattooed (how would that even be possible in this dystopian colony that praises conformity above all else) bad boy walking around with a gun in his jeans. He of course thinks she is special! She blushes furiously and gets dizzy every fucking time! Romance to die for!

“The more I get to know you, the more I don’t want you to join us. I want to keep you safe.” My cheeks and the tips of my ears burn red-hot. (…)

I’m just glad he still wants to be around me. I find myself craving to be near him too. I want to be with Mace. I want to fight. I want to live.

Thus Sia suffers from a sudden change of heart and joins the rebellion. Not because her need for survival drives her but because of her sprouting hormones.

Mace smiles. “Why the change of heart?”

“Yesterday, when the sector rebelled, I needed you. I don’t want to always need saving. If you’re going to fight for your life, why shouldn’t I? I guess I’m curious about what I can do other than stand there and let them kill me.”

“Training sessions are scheduled once a day. We have weapons – tools, baseball bats, knives (…) And we have a couple of guns, but not a lot of ammunition, so we’re selective about who will use them.”

It’s clear, from the amount of information he has, that Mace is high up in this group. Maybe even its leader. And he’s one of the few trusted with a gun. If his team knew he’d been firing it to scare off thieves a few days ago, what would they think? Still, I smile internally. He must care to risk using what little ammunition he had to save me even though he’d only just met me.

Knives and baseball bat against a cyborg army with automatic weapons and bombs. What a grand rebellion!

Mace rubs my arms. “You have no idea how happy it makes me that you want to live. I promise I will protect you.” Butterflies explode in my stomach, and I wrap my arms around him, molding my body with his.

Those 250 pages are 200 pages too long.

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