October 25, 2014

Review: Stung

Stung by Bethany Wiggins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I read some other Goodreads reviews of this book before I started on mine, and it seems there are only two camps regarding this story: you either really like it or you absolutely hate it.

I don't quite fall into the "absolutely hate it" faction; my feeling about this book is that it's mediocre at best, and that's only if you don't think about it too much. Once you do, the severe flaws in worldbuilding, plot and characterization become blindingly apparent.

The most glaring flaw, for me, is the worldbuilding and backstory. There is a lot of handwaving regarding the science (such as it is); I'm sure even a halfway competent beekeeper could take this story apart without much effort. To wit, as much as I understand it--which probably isn't very well at all, as the backstory of this book does not make sense--bees were in danger of going extinct, so there was genetic manipulation, which resulted in the genetically enhanced bees killing the old bees off, and the gengineered bees' sting spread the bee flu (and with that, the severe suspension of disbelief already required to this point absolutely snaps), and the vaccine created for the flu sent some people into comas and turned others into drooling, Incredible-Hulk style monsters. (Really. I kept waiting for the author to describe the lovely green shade of said monsters' skin.) Oh, yeah, this scenario causes mass starvation and the breakdown of society (which is actually the most believable part of the entire book), and the bee flu apparently kills SEVEN TIMES more females than males, as the ratio of f/m is now 1 to 7.

Seriously, Ms. Wiggins? I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous. It also serves as a gateway to some of the more nasty parts of the book, namely that the surviving women are reduced to sexual objects and breeders, and the men are all turned into sex-starved rapists. (And apparently there are also no gay men and women left in the world.)

There are considerably more problems with the plot and characters (mainly because Fiona Tarsis, the protagonist, veers perilously close to Too Stupid To Live territory), but I don't feel like going on, to tell you the truth. This book is a mess, and it's not even an interesting mess. Some people might like it; there are a number of 5-star reviews on Goodreads, which I don't understand at all. To me, it reads more like a trunk novel, and the author should have left it there.

(Yes, I did change my rating from 2 stars to 1. I thought about the book too much, I guess.)

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