The Trip by Tim Morgan isn’t bad, but it isn’t very good, either.
At the end of their senior year, Dave, Chris, and Meghan’s cross-country bicycle trip is interrupted by a zombie apocalypse. They struggle to survive as they make their way back from Wisconsin to Massachusetts.
This novel falls into the “trying to survive the emerging apocalypse” category, with the twist being a trio of teenagers on bicycles. (There’s a halfhearted explanation most of the way through about why they never switch to cars, but it falls apart under scrutiny.) The action consists primarily of hordes of zombies running after the main characters, who then escape on their bicycles–there’s little explicit violence, which isn’t in and of itself a bad thing, but there’s also little action, and what little drama there is manifests as the trite, teenager variety.
The three main characters are flat. Dave is a writer who can’t get girls. Meghan has friend-zoned him despite a couple of kisses at prom, and her sudden, un-foreshadowed religiosity a third of the way in doesn’t ring true. Chris is a he-slut who has contracted HIV through an unwise sexual encounter, which evolves into a predictable event later in the book. There’s an active attempt to make Chris utterly unlikable in the middle of the novel. It works too well, and without resorting to spoilers, I’ll say that it unfortunately makes the other two main characters unlikable as well.
Mr. Morgan is very light on description, especially of the protagonists, to the point that we can’t name Meghan’s eye color until two-thirds of the way through the book, and still don’t know any of the main characters’ builds, hair color, fashion sense, etc. Meghan has a dog, Rocket, but we have no idea of breed, size, color, or mannerisms.
The chapters jump around in time rather willy-nilly, flashing back and forth between apocalypse survival and senior year drama, yet instead of complementing each other, they clash. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern or point to which vignette comes when, and instead of adding suspense (or characterization or richness), the narrative jumps interrupt the flow of the plot.
In the end, I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t recommend it, either. It has the bones of a great zombie yarn, but there isn’t enough action to be an action novel, and there isn’t enough drama for it to be a drama.
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