Note: A Hole in the World by Brian Keene was provided as part of the Early Reviewers program on LibraryThing.
One airport shuttle bus driver and 18 passengers head out into a snowstorm and are swept up by a vortex that crash lands them in a jungle complete with dinosaurs and deadly plants. That’s the premise of author Brian Keene’s new book, A Hole in the World, a prequel to his Lost Level books.
The first chapter seems to go on a bit as Keene circles around the entire bus to give each person their introduction and to present their inner thoughts. We meet a quadriplegic, a serial killer, and protective mom, to name a few. Once Chapter 2 start, the novel is quick-fire action as the passengers try to survive without their cell phones, tools, or a true north in this hostile world.
Though their encounters with hungry dinosaurs and flesh-dicing, poisonous plants devastate the group, they also learn that sometimes it is the other passengers they must be wary of. This is a theme often seen in post-apocalyptic and zombie storylines, but here it’s twisted into a story that is more sci-fi than fantasy – and it definitely puts Keene’s horror senses to good use.
As dominoes fall in A Hole in the World, I found myself rooting for a couple characters. About halfway through, I realized that who survives really isn’t the point. It’s the human instinct to try to survive in spite of the odds, and each of us in our own way, be that bravely, cowardly, aggressively, or covertly.
Full disclosure: I’ve never read the Lost Level books that preceded this one, The Lost LevelandReturn to Lost Level. I saw Keene’s name pop up on the Early Reviewers list on LibraryThing and, remembering how much I enjoyed the four books of his Levi Stoltzfus series, so I just clicked “Request It!” without much thought.
After reading the story and Keene’s afterward explaining how it and its characters came about, I can say it was nonstop entertaining once past the first chapter. Yet the description “weird fantasy prequel” is an honest one. This will not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s not a neat and typical novel – and the ending will dissatisfy some. But if you love seeing how characters handle being thrown out of their comfort zones and enjoy fast-paced action, it’s worth checking out.
To learn how to order a copy, visit the link to Apex Books.