This week’s book review is of the unbelievably-awesomely titled book: Chicken Nuggets: The Raptor Apocalypse.
In what is easily the most bizarrely-titled book I’ve reviewed to date, Chicken Nuggets is a dark, dark, DARK post-apocalyptic tale of life after Earth is invaded by white, raptor-like creatures. The author, Steve R. Yeager, contacted me as a reader and enjoyer of Non Zombie. He happened to mention his novel, and I found the title way, way too compelling not to check out. (So apparently, if you’re my fan I’ll read your book—just watch out, because I will tell you if it’s crap). Fortunately, Steve’s novel gripped me by the throat from page one. (Well, maybe page three—it is his debut novel, I believe).
Chicken Nuggets takes place across America, with the main characters traveling on the road from place to place (as characters in post-apocalyptic novels often do). A large part of Jesse’s story takes place in Texas.
JESSE PRIEO: Jesse is the first protagonist in the book. Before the apocalypse he was a cop with a wife and daughter. Afterward, he’s a survivor with a wife and daughter. From page one, you want Jesse to win—or at least to live as long as possible, since this is a post-apocalyptic tale and those are not always happy books. I obviously won’t spoil Jesse’s story for you, but I’ll say that Yeager’s character development starts off strong and gets even better.
CORY MELKIN: Cory is an assistant to Professor LaPaz (see below) and member of an organization whose motivations aren’t clear at the beginning of the tale. One thing is for sure: Cory is not necessarily a good person at the start. The book sets you up pretty early on that Cory and his little band have something to do with the raptor apocalypse, but exactly what it is doesn’t become clear until later.
EVE (EVELYN): Eve is a woman living in Eden, a small town years after the apocalypse run by Noah (see below). Noah is abusive to her, but she’s gotten all Stockholm-y and is absolutely devoted to him, even becoming his second wife. She attempts to seduce Cory on Noah’s orders, but is then drawn into his continuing adventure against her will.
PROFESSOR LAPAZ: LaPaz is a mysterious figure at the beginning of the story, a scientist and member of a shadowy organization whose purposes are only hinted at: something to do with “Project Genesis.” Despite being an academic, and not much of a public speaker, he has considerable physical prowess as well. He’s enigmatic, somewhat fickle, and the only one keeping Cory’s more violent tendencies in check at the beginning of the book.
NOAH: Noah is an old man and preacher in a small town in America five years after the apocalypse. He’s an over-controlling, sadistic, manipulative man; obviously, this means he’s risen to power in the dark world after the raptors.
CON: The first “con” about this book is a minor one. From the title, I expected a more insouciant, comical post-apocalyptic horror story, something along the lines of Non Zombie or Fat Vampire. It is not. It is DARK. This is obviously not a problem with the book itself—it’s very well-written—but I might have considered a name change. “Chicken Nuggets” and “Apocalypse” together just make me chuckle.
CON: The book covers a large span of time (years). Chapter one is “apocalypse day one,” and the next chapter with that character will be months later. The transitions could have been handled slightly smoother—sometimes they’re a bit jarring.
CON: I think this book could use a good edit. There were more typos than I typically see in an independent work. It is FAR from the worst thing I’ve ever seen, however; it’s just slightly below the level I consider “normal.” I did notify the author about these (I always make lists as I’m reading) and as he’s a super-cool guy, I’m sure he’s going to get on them right away. This would probably handle the transition issue (above).
PRO: Interestingly, the author (Steve Yeager) wrote the first part of this book as a part of NaNoWriMo. It’s a very impressive work for having been written in a month (not including editing time).
PRO: If you want a believable post-apocalyptic world, this is it. Mankind’s society dissolves like a snowball in hell. It also spans a great length of time, a fact I loved when compared to a lot of post-apocalyptic stories (including Non Zombie) which only follow the character for a few weeks or months and then simply fade to black.
PRO: Yeager is an expert at “writing himself into a corner” and then getting out of it deftly. So many times I was like, “Welp, this character is fucked. What deus ex machina bullshit is going to come up to save them?” And yet I was always pleased with the resolution. And without giving any major spoilers, sometimes the answer was “They DON’T MAKE IT, BITCH!”
Overall this book is a dark, action-packed tale that reads well, is entertaining, and is worth a read (and your few bucks). My cons are few and niggly, only removing a single star. With a solid edit, I’d probably up this to an easy five stars.