Bloomsbury and Walker Childrens for asking me to join their blog tour!
Doomed by Tracy Deebs
Rating: two stars (out of four)
Overall this was an entertaining and fast-paced read. I found myself quickly immersed in a world that had all the action of a thriller movie and yet still managed to make me chuckle. But there were a few things that didn't add up (and I freely admit some of these are nit-picky)...
First, I couldn't help but think it was such a remarkable coincidence these two boys just so happened to live next door to Pandora. And how convenient they were also so SKILLED in like, everything imaginable. I mean seriously, was there anything these guys couldn't do?
Break into a car? No problem!
Evade the FBI, Homeland security and ALL the police? Piece of cake.
Fly a plane? Oh, yeah!
Sometimes it drove me crazy because it felt so unrealistic. It was so handy that Eli and Theo stuck around to rescue Pandora. And sure, all of their heroics and stunts definitely made for a fast-paced and entertaining read, but I was left with some twinges of disbelief.
Second, how on earth did Pandora and Theo know SO MUCH about bandaging people up? (I mean, obviously they would have gotten good at the rate they were going in this newly post-apocalyptic world.) But still, they seemed to know everything about cleaning and disinfecting wounds. Maybe I just missed that day in school or something. But if I had been in the same predicament I wouldn't have known what to do and probably would have made a fool of myself trying to bandage something up. These guys acted like little medical experts! (Well, at least, what I imagined a teen medical expert would look like, because clearly I have so much knowledge about this subject, ahem.) Although with Theo, I could believe he had those skills, because I mean he had ALREADY DONE EVERYTHING ELSE. Okay, sorry for the excessive caps, I can't stop reiterating how Super Human he and Eli were.
Third, Pandora didn't worry about her mother very much. And I guess that's okay...the very beginning of the book showcased their strained relationship. And there wasn't much Pandora could do for her mother, she needed to focus on surviving herself. But when I got to the end I realized how little Pandora had thought about her. It felt a little off-beat. And sure, Pandora thought about her a couple of times, but other than that she was completely focused on the task at hand...which was good, because the whole world depended on it.
Fourth, the ending felt rushed. (Actually, most of the endings I've read in the past couple of weeks have felt rushed.) I know it's hard to bring closure to a 300+ page novel, but it kind of felt like: ACTIONACTIONACTIONACTIONokaysafetyDONE. Everything was solved too quickly. I wanted more struggle for the ending because it ended up feeling a little anticlimactic. It seemed slightly ridiculous how easy it was for them to stop the end of the world.
Fifth, a major spoiler rant. So please skip over this segment if you haven't read the book. Highlight to see spoiler.
This thing probably bothered me the most: the end where Theo was able to hack into the computer virus and save the world. Wait. What? Where did he pick up those skills? H was able to hack better than the SEEMINGLY best hacker in the world (and the creator of the virus, nonetheless). That was a tad unbelievable. Although, after some time had passed, I realized I was willing to forgive those largely unrealistic skills because I could see some plausible reasons for this scenario. Maybe Pandora's father wasn't functioning properly due to all the stress he had encountered? Maybe he was going crazy? Maybe Theo's fresh set of eyes was exactly all that was needed. And maybe Pandora's father had gotten frantic when he heard all the reports coming in from the rest of the world and he then started making mistakes due to his fear of making things worse? I mean, I was pretty open to these situations. But I was a little skeptical about Theo having this magic ability to fix everything. Geez, playing the Super Human card a little too much.
This is something I'm not sure is good or bad. On one hand, I really appreciated how much we saw inside Pandora's head. I could see her thoughts so clearly and also how much she struggled with what was going on around her. It was interesting to see her thoughts waver back and forth between the two guys. And even though this was another one of those horrendous love triangles, it didn't bother me because it wasn't exploited. (Also, I already knew who she was going to end up with - so I wasn't stressed about that because it was obvious.) But in some cases, seeing inside Pandora's head was annoying. Instead of doing action, Pandora would only think about what she needed to do for a while and then she would do it. That was a little tedious at times. Also, she kind of freaked out a lot. I couldn't quite develop my stance on her hyperventilating scenes. The first couple of times it happened I felt like it was realistic. You're suddenly thrust into a post-apocalyptic world - hey, you're totally allowed to have a meltdown. But there's a fine line between just the right amount and too much. And Pandora might have had too many hyperventilating moments for me.
And now, things I definitely liked! From the beginning of the book, I was already engrossed in the story and thought it was an interesting premise. I had imagined Doomed as this sort of internet-video-game-gone-too-far and people trapped in some sort of crazy virtual reality. But what I got instead was a crazy internet video game crossed with a post-apocalyptic world and very real dangers. It was great. So much more intense than I had anticipated. I sped through the book because I wanted to what would happen next.
Also, this novel was really good with driving up the suspense and action. Just when you thought things couldn't get worse BAM something even crazier happened. Several times I found myself marveling at how much danger these teenagers were in. There was a good amount of layers and different dynamics throughout. For instance: there would be a ticking time bomb in the internet video game, monsters attacking the characters in the video game, ALL THE WHILE the teenagers were on the run in real life from something equally dangerous. It created a lot of tension and kept the drama high. There were some cases where I didn't know how they were going to make it out alive. Another thing I just thought about: it was creepy how the internet video game mirrored what was happening in real life. But sometimes it left me with questions: like how did the internet video game know EXACTLY what Pandora was wearing and could change her clothes to perfectly match? That was never answered.
But on the whole, as much as I had questions and answers, I still tore through this book. It had a fast pace with lots of action and high stakes. I enjoyed the intense/thriller aspects and I liked the characters (even if they got on my nerves sometimes). There was even a couple of times where I completely forgot I was reading a book and would jolt back into reality and be startled by my still working technology. Doomed delivers fast-paced adventure with likable characters and an interesting premise. I think fans of dystopian or science fiction books would probably enjoy this book the most.