The first bad feeling I had was when Jack was introduced in the beginning and he meets our main protagonist Kasey. He is that tick too much All Smiles, the tick too helpful, the tick too cute. He basically screams future serial killer, yeap, that kind of guy. So nope, Jack and I weren´t off to a good start together.
Kasey spends the evening and night at the beach, partying and celebrating her birthday and high school graduation with her friends, and the newly met Jack. Drunk and exhausted they fall asleep on the beach. Those were the times when I wanted to bitch-slap Kasey, dont be silly, don´t do it, innocent as it may be. Le Sigh. Of course that´s what teenagers do, except me, I was never that kind of girl. Now stop laughing everyone, thanks. :-)
A mass suicide of thousands dolphins triggers the events that are to come, or rather those are the first event of this part of the world gone to hell (Long Island), and into darkness. Kasey and Jack try at first to help to bring the dolphins back into the water, but really there isn´t anything they could do, horrifying as it is. What follows is that basically everyone around is loosing their shit, and violence is in the air whereever they go. From cops killing to those they should protect, to suicide, or to a motorcycle gang that is not what it appears to be. Hell has come to earth in the form of a Black Ship, which only two people have seen. Kasey is one of them.
What I did like about Genesis is in this action-packed drama is any kind of action follows with an immediate reaction. It pays off that the story takes place in a short period of time only - in the course of 36 hours - , so everything has consquences that shows straight away, good and bad. Kasey is clearly dumbfounded, who wouldn´t when everything you know in your life is gone from one minute to the next?, while also being able to think straight, more often than not anyway. More like her survival instincts kicking in which makes her, despite all her flaws and wrong decisions, a strong character.
The survival here has less to do what is really happening in the world out there, sure that too, but what makes her keep going without going insane. How she deals with everything in her head is insofar the greatest strength of Genesis. Like when Jack is abducted by demons and her mission to rescue him is all she has on her mind. It takes a special sort of narrow-mindness and 100 % focus, both used positively here, to act like Kasey does.
The premise is clearly that of a shattered world, going from a sheltered childhood, minus the divorce of her parents, to finding herself plunged into the abyss. The illusion of a safe childhood are gone at Kasey´s 18th birthday, and there is nothing in the world that could ever bring it back. The emotions are intense, no denying, and thus I think Stefan Bolz captured the inner turmoil of a teenager´s life well.
What I didn´t like all that much is how the author insert himself here in the narrative with some kind of odd foreshadowing. I paraphrase, but I could not fully appreciate sentences like "that was Kasey´s first mistake" and similar. And where there is a first mistake there needs to be a second one. As if I don´t see that yes, indeed Kasey is panicking and does make mistakes that brings her closer to her life spiraling downwards. Strangely, or maybe not, it nevertheless fits to the story itself. Still it feels bit like talking down to me, as if there is some dumbed down version of an off-screen voice who tells me what´s going on even I see it myself.
Genesis is an entertaining read as a whole but in the end the YA approach of those apocalyptic events and myself weren´t that much of a good match. While the book itself clearly stands on its own feet, and I would think does well, everything after the mindfucker that was ´Medium Talent´ (by Forbes West) pales in comparison for me.
I keep thinking back to the characters and the plot, and after distancing myself for some days from it, I´m still not sure why I did not enjoy the story as much as I did with other Apocalypse Weird novels. The writing is good and poetic, the story captures everything from the life of a teenager to a world in horror, the character development is great, and still there is something nagging in my head that doesnt seem right to me. I don´t know, it is possible that the age gap, small as it may be (just eight years), is too big. For some reasons I could never fully relate to anything, and felt like an outsider simply reading a book. I know that sounds silly :-) While I´m more of an observer normally, never feel the need to "be" like a character I´m reading about, it makes it tricky for me in this case to *really* appreciate Genesis. Guess there is a reason why I never embraced YA. *shrugs*
It seems also impossible to read any novel in the AW world as a standalone, even they are, since there are connections that are easily missed. Chris Pourteau´s ´The Serenity Strain´ is referenced at least twice, and there might be a few others I overlooked, almost impossible to tell. Now that is something that makes me smile every single time, coz it shows how much of a bigger theme there is running in the background. I would think that Kasey will play in important rule in the future (due her White Dragon medaillion), as if she has it in her fate to be the heroine who saves the world. I could be wrong about this, obviously. And come to think of it, the black vs white seems that tad too obvious.
Also since Genesis is part of The White Dragon storyline, I could not help but think back to Eric Tozzi´s ´Phoenix Lights´ where he hints at the Black Dragon already. Things are coming together clearly, even the real apocalypse is still years away.
(Legal disclaimer: I received a free pre-publication ARC of Genesis by the publisher, Wonderment)