Monday, January 6, 2014

Swing Zone / Jodi McClure

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Genre: Post Apocalyptic

Approximate word count:  120-125,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: NO
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Jodi strives to create stories no one has seen before. To stand way off the beaten path, far outside the box. She wants her readers to walk away thinking, "Well, that was new..." in a good way.
Jersey shore native living in Durham, North Carolina. She is a novelist by nature, an artist by desire, an electronics tech by profession. Lover of large empty spaces, glass, plants, sunlight and ridiculously evil men.

After a near miss from an enormous comet, the Earth’s rotation is skewed and the resulting climate change and chaos wipes out a large portion of the human population. The story focuses on two societies who take different approaches to rebuilding.


There’s a lot to like in Swing Zone. Firstly, the ‘world,’ which consists of two cities. Freedale, a walled city with a western-type modern society complete with hi-tech, pollution, nightclubs, liquor, urban decay, and corrupt politicians. Its citizens are all ‘chipped,’ so their whereabouts are always known. The chips carry their bank balances, so society is cashless.

A thirty-minute motorbike ride away lays Lakeside. Its citizens are known to the Freedalers as ‘pures’ because they are low-tech and obsessively eco-conscious. The Swing Zone is the no-man’s land between.

Mia, sister to a high-ranking military officer in Freedale, is our protagonist. There’s a lot to like about her too. She puts credits on her chip by driving her old motorbike into the Swing Zone and digging for twenty-first century relics (such as DVDs). These artifacts are valuable to the Freedale elites.

Mia meets a ‘pure’ in the Swing Zone. Coltis is handsome and exerts a powerful physical and sexual influence over her. When she’s overwhelmed with the urge to follow Coltis to Lakeside, her brother, who is moving up the ranks and highly ambitious, agrees. Apparently, the Lakesiders have some mysterious power that gives them the ability to manufacture a hydro-electric dam, an advanced underground transportation systems, and a library as if from thin air.

Mia’s brother’s desire for that powerful ability provokes a war.

For me, this is all good stuff. Mia’s a lot of fun to be around. The love affair between her and Coltis is well handled and believably complicated. The mystery about the Lakesider’s ‘power’ was revealed slowly enough to keep me guessing. In short, I did enjoy the novel for the most part. Sadly though, the latter stages became confusing, repetitious, and so wordy that I found it hard to stay in the story. I skip-read a great deal of the final third of the book. IMO, this story has five stars written all over it if a serious effort were made to cut the word count and clarify the conclusion.

Format/Typo Issues:

A smattering of missed words and typos, not enough to cause a problem.

Rating: *** Three stars

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