Though it takes place in a quake torn city, STRUCK is not really a post-apocalyptic tale - more of a pre-apocalyptic set-up, if that makes sense. Yes, conditions are bad - but schools are still open and serving lunch, most of the rest of the world seems to be getting along ok, and Mia's family is traumatized but not desperate. The crux of the plot is Mia's role in bringing about a coming apocalypse, and in that it reminded me a lot of HARBINGER by Sara Wilson Etienne (tarot cards play a major role here too).
What really works for me here is voice and the ability to get inside the head of someone who has been struck by lightning so much she winds up craving it. Via the writing, I could feel the lightning - which was quite a unique reading experience. I loved how effectively TS Eliot's epic end-of-the-world poem The Wasteland is integrated.
The religion aspect was ambiguous to the point I wasn't sure what the message was - or if there was supposed to be one at all. The major characters seemed simultaneously good and evil for most of the book, which made it difficult to know who to sympathize with until the end. I'm still processing how I feel about that.
Because Jennifer is an Apocalypsie, we also get an Apoc Love! Interview today:
What is your favorite scene in the book?
My favorite favorite scene in “Struck” comes near the end of the book, so I won’t tell you that one because it’s a spoiler. Instead I’ll tell you my favorite scene from the first third of the book. In this scene, my protagonist, Mia Price, who is living in post-earthquake Los Angeles, goes to a tent city that’s been set up on Venice Beach to buy black market medicine for her mom. Bad things happen . . .
What is your favorite line in the book?
The very first line: “When you’ve been struck by lightning as many times as I have, you start to expect the worst pretty much all the time.”
What setting was most fun to write?
Ah, that’s a tough one. The most fun to write was the tent city (aka Tentville) on Venice Beach. If you’ve ever been to Venice Beach in L.A., you know that it’s a pretty crazy place already. After the earthquake, it’s a thousand times crazier because it’s where all the displaced who’ve lost their homes take up residence. The displaced are starving and desperate for clean water and supplies and medicine, and many of them will do whatever it takes to get those things. There’s a black market drug dealer who sets up shop in Tentville, and he is like the king of the beach. He’s the one my protagonist, Mia, has to deal with to get the meds her mom needs.
My other favorite setting is destroyed downtown Los Angeles, where all of the skyscrapers have fallen except for one, the tallest building which is called the Tower. I loved the idea of this city skyline with only one building left standing.
Who is your favorite supporting character - one you could see getting a spin-off book - and why?
The sexy bad girl of the book! Katrina Kale is one of Mia’s main antagonists. She’s a member of a doomsday cult called the Seekers, and she wants Mia to join them because she believes Mia is the key to an end of the world prophecy made by one of Katrina’s ancestors. The thing I love about Katrina is that she’s unapologetically ruthless, manipulative, and single-minded about her cause. She’ll do anything to get what she wants.
Hehe - Katrina was pretty awesome. What has been your favorite part of your publishing journey so far?
My first glowing review from a complete stranger. That was when I realized “Struck” was out there living a life of its own. I felt like I’d raised it from a baby, got it through it’s awkward years, and sent it off to college. That was nerve-wracking and gave me a bit of empty nest syndrome, but when I got that first awesome review I knew my creation was going to be okay out there in world. That some people were going to love it.
STRUCK comes out May 8, 2012, but I have two ARCs up for grabs for those who want to read it early. To enter, fill out this form by March 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm CST. US and Canada only. Books donated and shipped by the publisher.
Find out more about STRUCK at Goodreads.
FTC disclosure: The publisher sent me this book for review.