Jamie Reviews: James Phelan—"Chasers"
Chasers, the first book in James Phelan’s macabre Alone series, is a sad, yet thrilling, tale of the lengths a person will go to in order to survive in a hostile environment.
Jesse, the story’s protagonist, is on a subway ride through New York with his new friends from the UN Youth Ambassadors when their train is overturned in an explosion that shakes the city. When they climb out of the tunnel they emerge into a city that has been devastated by what seems like a massive terrorist attack.
Soon after they are accosted by a gang of people who have been infected with something that makes them forever thirsty; and it appears that their favourite drink is blood. They soon name these predators “Chasers”.
Survival becomes paramount for the four survivors. They hole up inside a restaurant in one of the few surviving skyscrapers, stockpiling supplies and awaiting rescue that looks never to come.
What sets Chasers apart from most post-apocalyptic novels is the focus on the characters as opposed to the setting. Jesse is made to come to terms with the prospect of sharing the city with only those around him, fear of the same thing happening to his own country (Australia), the impossibility of escape and dreams that hint at more going on than he suspects.
The writing in Chasers is simple yet effective; settings are described with little detail in order to let the reader build their own world. This both helps and hinders the story; those who have knowledge of New York will quickly build a mental image of the city as imagined by Phelan, those without will be forced to piece together somewhere completely alien.
Dialogue is more often internal than external, without punctuation to denote conversation versus thought. To begin with, this is a little confusing but makes sense as the story continues.
There is still plenty of story left to tell from this series. The second is already being published and the third is on its way. The first novel really just sets the scene for what is to come.
Published 27 May 2010, by Hachette
Paperback, 272 pages