Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon

Sparrow Rock

Nate Kenyon

Bad Moon Books

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Rating: Recommended Read

Reviewer: Ash

It should have been a normal night out with his friends. Peter and his buddies Jay, Jimmie, and Dan, and the girls, Sue and Tessa, descended into Sue’s grandfather’s bomb shelter to smoke some pot and hang out. Considering what happened next, it was the perfect place to be. Atomic bombs fall, and a mysterious plague breaks out. Battling cabin fever, the sickness, and themselves, the teenagers must find a way to survive.

I’ve had a copy of this book for quite a while, and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read it! Sparrow Rock is one of those books that suck you in immediately. The main character, Peter, isn’t your average teenager. Rather than the usual teenage things, his mind revolves around his best friend Tessa, his sick mother, and the death of his alcoholic father. His life experiences allow him to face disaster, tragedy, rage, and madness with a startling maturity and a remarkably clear head. All the character in this story played such a huge role in moving the story and drawing you in, that when the inevitable happened and one was lost, it took a moment to recover. It’s these relationships that you become part of that make this story so horrifying, sad, and moving.

Kenyon is a fantastic writer. I reviewed his first novel, Bloodstone, several years ago and found his writing to be absolutely amazing. He writes with clarity and strength, and his intense plots find a way to absorb the reader completely. Sparrow Rock is no exception. He writes the characters with just enough ‘teenager’ to make them seem real, but imbues them with enough maturity and natural reactions to keep an adult reader mesmerized. The plot is well-formed and unique, mostly, although I think it smells a little like it borrowed something from Brian Keene’s City of the Dead (minus the demons). No pun intended there. There seems to be a little bit of the movie Carriers in there too, but when you have sich a limited cast and setting, how much can realistically happen, either between people or involving their surroundings. You can’t really call this a zombie novel, but zombie fans would be appeased. I sort of anticipated one of the twists at the end—one of the characters has a secret, and if you’ve watched enough Sixth Sense-type movies, you’ll be able to figure it out about half-way/three-quarters of the way through. The characters are pretty common, jocks, nerds, fat girl, skinny girl, the guy who is a little of everything, but Kenyon manages to drag them out of their stereotypes and make them into something memorable.

Sparrow Rock has my recommendation! It’s a great novel, a quick read, and you’ll be thinking about it long after you’ve finished. While it’s a dark novel about losing hope, there is a continuous thread of hope running through the story. Although the characters are flawed, they manage to redeem themselves in some way, whether it’s through the virtue of just dying and leaving the others alone, or some great sacrifice. Kenyon brings up the concepts of youth, life, and death in a way that many authors have done before, using a modern setting and a modern, and plausible, method.

Make sure you have a couple of hours free when you start this story. You won’t want to put it down!


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