Review & G*veaway: LONDON EYE, by Tim Lebbon

First, here are today’s stops on the River Road virtual tour.

I’m being interviewed at The Dark Phantom site today, talking about writing process and other authorly things. There’s also a promo-only at Boekie’s Book Reviews. These are both “official” tour stops so you can enter for the Kindle or Nook (or gift card) giveaways, as well as comment for the commenter prizes (see column at right).

This has not been a good reading year for me. I think I might have read six or seven books all year—and I’m not sure I finished all of those. Pathetic, huh? In my own defense, I did write three books and release four, so it was an unusual year all the way around. But I’m vowing to do more reading and there’s no time like now to start.

First up: London Eye, the first in a new post-apocalyptic series from Tim Lebbon that the publisher describes as “The Hunger Games meets X-Men.” 

ABOUT LONDON EYE:  Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a military force known as Choppers….The rest of Britain believe that the city is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland. But Jack and his friends, some of whom lost family on what has become known as Doomsday, know that the reality is very different. …At great risk, they have been gathering evidence about what is really happening in London, and it is incredible. Because the handful of Londons survivors are changing. Developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving.

A SCENE I’D READ TWICE: When our young survivors are on their way to London to look for family members who’ve been missing since the terrorist attack, they come to a huge field called the Barrens and only when they’re crossing it do they realize it’s a mass grave layers and layers and layers of bodies deep. Because it’s so well “fertilized,” there are riotous plants beginning to grow. Pretty chilling stuff. Runner-up: A scene from near Parliament, and the descriptions of some of the city’s most famous landmarks.

I DIDN’T QUITE BUY: Our band of heroes—the teen survivors we follow throughout the book—weren’t quite as three-dimensional as I’d like. I also had to suspend some serious disbelief when the young sister (age nine) of one of the boys keeps filming things with her little handheld camera. I liked that she was doing it but…seriously….my iPhone charge only lasts a few hours if I do a lot of photos and filming with it, and we never saw her changing battery packs or trying to charge it. Still, a relatively minor quibble that probably says more about my OCD than the book itself, and maybe battery packs are better in 2029, when the book is set.

THE WORLD: The worldbuilding is awesome. We’re handed just enough information to hook us in as readers, and then Lebbon does a masterful job of feeding us new nuggets of info as the teens learn about what’s happened to the isolated city of London (since they weren’t in London at the time of the attack, they’ve only heard of things through the underground—and a lot of what they’ve heard isn’t true). London is hit by a terrorist attack at the London Eye that releases a biological agent called Evolve. Most people die. The ones who survive–and it isn’t clear why some survive and some don’t–begin to, well, evolve. They begin developing superhero skills such as healing and much less benign attributes. Others, the Choppers, begin to capture the evolving people to do experimentation on them. Brain dissections, anyone? Actually, if anyone remembers the TV show “Heroes,” it’s more like that so far than “X-Men.” There are a lot of directions this worldbuilding can take the story, so it should be a rich series.

THE CHARACTERS: I found it hard to really bond with our band of survivors as much as I wanted to. Meeting five or six characters at once, as we do in the beginning, plus having a shifting point of view, means it’s hard to really stay in anyone’s head long enough to start caring about them. While so much of the YA I’ve read wallows in too many overwrought emotions, this doesn’t quite give me enough, and I found myself wishing the whole book had been in Jack’s point of view since he’s the best developed of the kids. I was really happy to see us in a male character’s POV through most of the book, so those books are definitely in a minority.

GENERAL THOUGHTS: Overall, I really enjoyed this as the first book in a new series, with all the setup and worldbuilding that entails. I’d definitely pick up the second when it comes out. I’m a sucker for a good dystopian and Lebbon’s background in writing urban fantasy comes through here. It doesn’t fall into the melodrama we find in so much YA fiction, although I wish it had a bit more emotional development than it did. 

[DISCLAIMER: An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.]

Want to win a copy of London Eye? I have one to give away to one commenter. Would you rather a book err a little on the “too much emotion” side or “too little”? Up to five entries possible: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow, +1 for a Tweet or RT about the contest, +1 for a Facebook follow. Contests end at midnight CDT U.S. on Saturday.

23 thoughts on “Review & G*veaway: LONDON EYE, by Tim Lebbon

  1. Hmmm…. Difficult… Too much emotion can make the characters sound like dramaqueens, but too little makes that I don’t feel connected to the characters. I think both are equally bad.

    +3 comment, follower, Twitter follower

  2. [+1] comment
    – I prefer a book with a nicely balanced emotional tugs. I tend to avoid overly emotional books. I am an escapist reader. I read to escape not to cry.

    [+1] GFC follower name is Cherry.

    [+1] Twitter follower name is @cherrymischivus.
    – On a side note: why does your twitter link above opens up to a “You Are A Winner” spam page?

    [+1] Twitted about your giveaway at:

    [+1] Facebook follower name is Cherry Mischivous.

    Thank you for the chance to win! 🙂

    Cherry Mischievous
    cherrymischif-spamme [at] yahoo [dot] com

    • How weird…I clicked it and it opened to a regular “tweet this post” button. Wonder if it’s linking differently on different browsers? I use Chrome. Maybe I’ll fire up Firefox and see how it does on there……Thanks for letting me know!

  3. I’d rather there be too much emotion than not enough–if there is no emotion I can’t connect to the story.

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  4. I would rather it be too much emotion, but not like over the top just the right amount. It is important to be able to connect with the characters, no one want to read about one-dimensional characters.

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  5. I’m not a fan of too much emotion – it feels too soap-y. I like emotion to be inferred rather than blatant…just like real life in my experience! 🙂

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  6. I guess I should say here that these characters aren’t without emotion altogether. I’d just get a little impatient with being told emotions rather than shown emotions. Instead of showing me Jack’s anger and how that felt, I’d be told “Jack was angry.” I also don’t want so much emotion the characters are wallowing in it…somewhere in the middle.

  7. This just reminds me of how difficult it is to truly strike a balance between not enough and too much.

    If the characters over “emote” (I don’t know, can you over emote? lol).. I tend to get frustrated with the book and will skim.. eventually losing interest if the book is really angsty.. but at the same time, if you don’t have emotion in there.. the book comes across as remote, or distant..thereby making it hard to connect or root for the characters. I guess I’ll go with too much emotion as opposed to not enough.

    I recall a book with “being told, not shown” and I got incredibly frustrated reading it. Decent ideas & plot.. but something always felt “off” when I was reading the book.

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  8. Would you rather a book err a little on the “too much emotion” side or “too little”? That is a really tough question. I think the answer belongs in the eye of the beholder. It could almost be said that too much is paranormal romance and too little is urban fantasy. Except that would mean they would be the same if the amount of emotion was equal, and maybe the HEA.

  9. Given the choice, I’d much rather read a book with too little emotion/emotional development. Having too much, especially if it’s not believable, makes me want to put the book down. I can live with having too little and focus on the setting and worldbuilding, so as not to lose too much potential enjoyment of the book.

    +1 comment

  10. I think I’d rather have less emotion than too much, I don’t really enjoy melodrama. London Eye sounds like a great story, I’d heard a little about it before, but now I’m even more interested in it.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com
    GFC: Barbara E.
    Twitter: @BarbaraElness
    Facebook: Barbara Elness

  11. I Think i’d like not too much emotion, it means just on the propotion for the books.

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  12. I honestly have been waiting on this book because it sounds really good! I love dystopia and I haven’t read anything set in London yet so I thought it might be fun. I agree I prefer the characters emotion somewhere in the middle and I prefer to be shown emotion rather than just being told it. However I would rather them have to little emotion than to much because I really dislike drama queens or kings! LOL

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    pefrw at yahoo dot com

  13. +1 When it comes to post-apocalyptic or dystopian, I prefer less emotion. I like them tough and gritty, and I don’t like being terribly attached to the characters because, let’s face it, horrible things are happening to them. If I wanted to read about horrible things happening to characters I care about, I’ll just pick up something by Nicholas Sparks. (Okay, maybe not.) 😉

    +3 Kayla Beck (GFC, Twitter, FB)

    pherlaithiel (at) gmail (dot) com

  14. A good balance would be perfect. I need a bit of emotions to find a book entertaining, otherwise I lose interest, but those too heavy with them get on my nerves as well.

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    +1 fb lucia pannacci

    aliasgirl at libero dot it