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The Quake Cities by Mark Wheaton #BookReview

A woman tries to find her way home in a world decimated by earthquakes, but there are people determined to stop her and harvest her DNA. 

Alice wakes up in the Los Angeles Quake Zone in 2025 having no idea how she got there. As her memories slowly return, she finds she’s being hunted by several armed groups intent on capturing her alive.

At the same time, Este, a survivor of the quakes that destroyed Los Angeles, makes a living as a pathfinder for salvage teams in the city. Este rescues Alice from her pursuers and learns there is something not quite right about her – Alice is convinced it is 2003.

Aided by Este’s occasional boyfriend Wilfredo and her dog Casey, Este and Alice try to evade those chasing Alice and discover why they value her so highly, all while trying to reunite her with her family as the earthquakes around the world grow worse.

The Quake Cities by Mark Wheaton book cover

Title: The Quake Cities | Author: Mark Wheaton | Publisher: Severn House Publishers | Pub. Date: 2 March 2021 | Pages: 224 | ISBN: 9780727890528 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Starred Review: No | Source: Publisher

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The Quake Cities Review

The Quake Cities’ is a book that I expected to be one thing, but ended up being something else entirely. Sometimes an unexpected change of direction like that can be a joyous experience. Here it just left me scratching my head and feeling a bit frustrated. What doesn’t help is the fact that this book doesn’t do either thing that well. 

The book I thought I was going to be reading was a disaster movie type thing about plucky survivors fending for themselves after a catastrophic series of earthquakes messes everything up big time. It’s true that the book is set after such a disastrous event, but it’s not really about that at all. Instead the slightly convoluted plot centres around a mysterious woman who wakes up in the rubble convinced the year is about 2 decades earlier than it actually is. That initial mystery did hook me, but as it unravelled I became less and less involved. The explanation is reasonably clever and inventive, but it’s also one I’ve see done better elsewhere. 

The main problem with ‘The Quake Cities’ though is that it just isn’t that engaging. The characters (apart from said mystery woman) are pretty blah and I never cared enough about them to get swept up in the drama and peril. I came away feeling that the author had over complicated things by mashing disaster thriller and weird Sci Fi mystery together. I’d rather have read either a straight up post-apocalyptic type thing or the plot as it is in a regular, contemporary setting. 

It’s not all bad. That initial mystery is interesting and there’s lots of running around and incident. At under 250 pages it’s pleasantly brief by modern standards. It just doesn’t hang together well. 

That said, if you’re after a light speculative thriller that tries to be different (even if it doesn’t always succeed), then you might find enough to keep you satisfied here. 

You can purchase a copy of this book via your normal retailer, but please consider purchasing it from a local indie bookshop instead. It can be found here at Indiebound or at Bookshop. Please note the Bookshop link is an affiliate link and each purchase you make through it helps to support Sci-Fi & Scary and keep the site running.

Published inScience Fiction Book ReviewsUnstarred Reviews

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