Thunder by Bonnie S. Calhoun (Stone Braide Chronicles)

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis:

In post-apocalyptic America, Selah Chavez is crouched in long grass on a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city. It is the day before her eighteenth Born Remembrance, and she is hunting, though many people refuse to eat animal flesh, tainted by radiation during the Time of Sorrows. What Selah’s really after are Landers, mysterious people from a land across the big water who survive the delirium-inducing passage in small boats that occasionally crash against the shoreline. She knows she should leave the capture to the men, but Landers bring a good price from the Company and are especially prized if they keep the markings they arrive with.

Everything falls to pieces when the Lander Selah catches is stolen by her brothers–and Selah wakes up the next morning to find the Lander’s distinctive mark has suddenly appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her–Bohdi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell.

With evocative descriptions of a strange new world that combines elements of scientific advances, political intrigue, and wilderness survival, Bonnie S. Calhoun weaves a captivating tale of a world more like our own than we may want to admit.”

My Review:

Thunder was an interesting novel that I was skeptical about. I read the synopsis and thought, Hm, the title and the cover are rather cliche, but it doesn’t look awful. Wait…hunting other people and selling them? Isn’t that…slavery? After I saw that, I was even more interested in reading this book. I know a guy who woke up one day and attempted to write a book about slavery, with little to no legitimate researched knowledge on the topic. The book quickly, painfully, thankfully fell apart. Slavery just isn’t the type of topic you can just hop out of bed and start writing about. So when I noticed (and it was impossible not to) that Calhoun has it as a rather large part of the book, I had to see how she was going to pull it off.

The verdict? It was respectful and I wasn’t left with the feeling that Calhoun wrote Thunder in a lackadaisical manner, but it still was centered on the capturing and selling actual beings. A post-apocalyptic slavery (in America no less) that sprang up due to another type of person that someone put a bounty on is an odd choice, given America’s history.

Onto the actual book: I wasn’t impressed. There was just no…Google, help me out, what word am I looking for? Enthusiasm? Maybe. When I read a book, there’s always some sort of inner voice that I hear reading with me. The one that creates the characters’ voices and really helps my mind use my five senses to really read. My inner voice was reading this story to me in the same way you talk about something you aren’t really interested in. A flat tone of voice, mechanical descriptions, just disinterested. Make no mistake, having the right amount of description in a young adult novel is hard. You either have no descriptive words/phrases or all of your sentences sound like this:
She gently lowered herself to the ground until her delicate fingers grasped the flower. Its pink color looked like the rosy cheeks of a newborn baby, quiet gibberish on their lips. The flower’s gossamer petals tickled the nerve-endings in her fingers as she sighed, thinking about Joseph.

Admittedly, this is a really descriptive piece, but in my opinion–even though I wrote it–it’s trying too hard and I don’t like it. It’s incredibly difficult to find that descriptive balance, but when it comes down to it, you would want your book to be over-descriptive, rather than not descriptive at all.

What is going on with Selah? She isn’t a bad character, but she was off for me. Selah is a strong woman, I wouldn’t say otherwise. She endured a huge info-dump from her mother and was immediately sent away without much instruction. She witnessed death and had to do many terrifying things on her own. Because of that, I was able to excuse some of the crying she did. In fact, I was reading one scene where she’s crying and I thought Well, she’s been through a lot. This is the second time maybe. I’ll let it slide. And then, a few pages later, she’s falling to the ground sobbing. I couldn’t let it slide. Then again, near the end, she’s sobbing hysterically again, over people she really does not know at all whatsoever. Maybe I’m heartless, but I couldn’t stand it. Don’t get it twisted, I don’t believe that crying is a sign of weakness or that Selah isn’t as strong because she cried sometimes, but I do believe that there has got to be a point where you don’t fall to the floor and cry as much. Selah didn’t reach that point by the end of the book and I don’t know if she will in the sequel. Selah also seemed to distance herself from Landers. I know she was taught to capture and sell Landers and that they weren’t actual humans or something of the sort, but I think it was distasteful how she kept saying “you people” and such phrases despite the information she received and the fact that was trying to save them.

The plot was simply okay. It was a good choice on Calhoun’s part to have the point-of-view be omniscient third-person and to switch between Selah and what was going on inside the Mountain. Calhoun set a even pace, and there was obvious focus, but I think the main issue with the plot was lack of information. The entire book was focused on constant action, which is fine. Explosions? Sure! Epic battles? Why not? Sneaky missions? Do it! I love and enjoy action, but I’d like some information too. I still am unsure as to what Landers are (are they angels?), where they come from, who Bohdi is, what the Time of Sorrows is, what caused it, and why it’s called that and many other things. Another question I have is why Thunder is labeled as Christian fiction? I saw no mention of Christianity or God or anything of the sort in the entire book even though I was expecting there to be. I know that you have to leave some things to be revealed in the sequel, but there should still be some information present in the first book.

Two things I didn’t appreciate/understand:

I did not appreciate the insta-love between Selah and the love interest. Just because you make the instant-infatuation happen a tiny bit slower than instant, doesn’t make it any less instant. There was no romance between them, no chemistry, and no actual genuine interest. It was a purely physical attraction, with Selah mentioning how amazing his body looks (and how hard it is to concentrate when he is shirtless) and the tingles they feel when they hug or kiss. How many times will I have to say this when addressing a YA novel? Instant-attraction stops at the physical level, it isn’t love. Real love is much deeper.

I didn’t understand why Selah’s mother blamed her for all of the negative things happening to her. Selah wasn’t born the way she was and maybe, just maybe if her mother had explained things, they wouldn’t be in the situation they are in. Instead, Selah’s mom tells Selah that it’s all her fault, guilt trips her, says that she has to deal with the consequences on her own, and then says goodbye. What? Her mother saw and allowed her husband and his children to mistreat Selah, continues to choose her husband over Selah, and then pretends to be remorseful. I was shocked and disgusted at how quickly her mother bailed as soon as things got difficult.

Would I Recommend It: Eh. It’s free and since it isn’t too painful, you could probably download it and read it to fill up some time if you need to.

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