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Saturday, July 16, 2011

POD by Stephen Wallenfels

Title: POD
Author: Stephen Wallenfels

Release Date: 27th June 2011

My Rating: 4/5

Surviving a massive alien siege is one thing-­surviving humanity is another.

I'm all cried out. I'm still alone. The sky is full of giant spinning black balls that kill anyone stupid enough to go outside. I've only been out of the car twice-once to pee and once to look at the sky. That one look was enough for me. Now I sit alone in the car, staring out the window like a rat in a cage. But I don't have anyone to look at. The parking garage is empty, except for twisted-up cars, broken glass, and the smell of leaking gasoline.

POD is the story of a global cataclysmic event, told from the viewpoints of Megs, a twelve-year-old streetwise girl trapped in a hotel parking garage in Los Angeles; and sixteen-year-old Josh, who is stuck in a house in Prosser, Washington, with his increasingly obsessive-compulsive father. Food and water and time are running out. Will Megs survive long enough to find her mother? Will Josh and his father survive each other.

In A Nutshell:
POD is a sci-fi, apocalypse/armageddon–esq story of survival. It is suspenseful and looks at bravery, resilience, desperation, relationships and peoples humanity, or lack of.

My Review:
POD is a sci-fi, apocalypse/armageddon–esq story of survival that centres around sixteen year old Josh in Washington, and twelve-year-old Megs in Los Angeles. It is a suspenseful novel that looks at bravery, resilience, desperation, relationships and peoples humanity, or lack of. The chapters alternate between both characters, chronologically what they go through each day over the space of a month, beginning when the alien PODs first arrive. The question is, what do they want? Will help come? When will they leave? How long can it continue?

We know very little about the PODs except that they make anyone not inside a building, disappear. While there isn’t any specific sightings of aliens, both characters deduct that because of the black spaceship pods and death-by-laser beams, plus some other strange occurrences, (high pitch sounds assaulting their heads, mysterious fog that allows them to see inside people) it must be aliens.

Josh is stuck at home with his OCD dad and old dog Dutch. At first Josh thinks his dad is crazy for rationing food and filling the bath tub with water but as food runs out, the electricity is cut off and the water stops running, he realises the reason behind the madness. While Josh doesn’t have it quite as bad as Megs, his relationship with his father is really tested and he only has the girl he can see across the street to give him something to smile about. Josh is also plagued by nightmares of the PODs and the damage they have caused as well as constantly worrying about the fate of his mother who is in LA on business. As food and water run out, Josh and his dad start to consider their options, death by starvation or death by POD, and have to make some tough and surprising decisions. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Megs is alone in a hotel parking garage, hiding from the tyrannical hotel owner and his ‘security guards’ who like nothing more than smashing things and contributing to the aliens death toll. The poor thing is left to fend for herself, dodging dead bodies and scrounging through cars for food and water, not something that is easily found. Aside from hiding and putting up with hunger pains and thirst, all she has to occupy herself with is a kitten and an Alien vs. Predator comic she finds in one of the abandoned cars (ironic since she is essentially being held hostage by aliens). Megs is only twelve but she is gutsy and smart and is a very likable character.

What makes POD different to other books about invasions is that usually the characters can survive by raiding buildings and fighting back using guerrilla tactics. But in POD, you can't leave your house without being zapped by the aliens and disappearing. So what can you do??? Is any attempt at survival a lost cause?

While the ending doesn't really finish on a cliff-hanger, it does leave the reader with (a lot of) questions, questions that enable the author to continue on with a second book. In my opinion, this is where the story is let down. There are so many questions about the aliens that to reach any sort of real satisfaction, a sequel will need to be read. I am content with the ending and I’d like to think I will be able to wait around until its release, but patience isn’t a virtue of mine when it comes to books so fingers crossed it won’t be a long wait.

Try this if you enjoyed Gone, The Enemy, Chasers or The Road (by Cormac McCarthy).

Thankyou to Allen and Unwin for providing me with this review copy.


  1. I reckon this would be the kind of book my brother wouldn't hate to read (like is a strong word in his books HAHA). This sounds interesting - nice review!

  2. I didn’t find this to be one of the apocalyptic books I enjoyed a lot. I wanted to know why the aliens had come, which I guess still in War of the Worlds you still really don’t know.
    Thought with a basis that you are stuck indoors it would be difficult to really create an innovative and gripping plot. He did and he didn’t at the same time.
    And the kitten by the way was my favourite.

  3. Great review! This is not really my usual type of read but it definitely sounds like a page turner.

  4. Wow, this one sounds really interesting... I was really put off by the cover, but your review made it sound interesting enough. Although I guess I'm like you, in my scifi I need to know why and how. If they don't explain why the aliens come it's going to frustrate me, but at the same time I want to see how he manages to keep the plot going while everyone's stuck inside...

    ^^In terms of War of the Worlds Braiden, I guess you can somewhat assume that the aliens either ran out of resources on their own planet and came to use ours instead or were just looking to further colonise (overpopulation might cause that to happen)... I know they don't directly explain it, but their actions in the book/radio play/movie sort of give hints.


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