This review contains spoilers and was originally written in March of 2014.
*This was posted on my old website and Goodreads. I have moved it here, and I have proofread it, for those that may be interested in reading the book.
“More than two hundred years into the future, human beings are an endangered species. The planet has been battered by war, its inhabitants plagued by disease and death. Few humans survived and remained unaffected. Most changed dramatically and evolved into something else entirely. Irrevocable alterations caused by chemical warfare have created a new species. North America is in ruins and has been overtaken. Humanity has fallen at the hands of mutants known as Urthmen.
Seventeen year-old Avery is alive and unchanged. But she has not been immune to the harshness of the new world. She has lived on the run for much of her life, in terror.
After losing her father, Avery is the sole guardian of her eight-year-old sister, June. Avery is now charged with June’s safety as well as her own, a nearly impossible task.
Forced to hide deep in the forest and away from the cities overrun by Urthmen, Avery and her sister are constantly hunted. Danger awaits them at every turn. They fear they are the only human beings left, that they are the last of their kind.
But are they truly alone?
Find out in this raw and rousing first installment of the Planet Urth series.” (Source: Goodreads)
At first glance, Planet Urth by Jennifer and Christopher Martucci, has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the book didn’t quite live up to the expectations I had for it. After losing their mothers six years prior admidst an Urthmen massacre, main characters Avery and June, are taken under their father’s wing and taught to fend for themselves in a post-apocalyptic North America. Beginning a year after their father’s passing, Avery finds herself struggling to meet the needs of her younger sister while simultaneously lamenting the fact that June cannot live a normal life. Together, they hunt for food surviving against the harsh dangers of this new world.
Alone, the plot of this novel is fantastic and easily could have been written into a more promising read. In fact, were I to rate Planet Urth on plot alone, I could easily give it a four- or five-star rating without a second thought. Naturally, that begs the question: Why did I not? There were two factors that came into play while reading this book that not only made it difficult to continue reading it, but also forced me to have to go over lines a second and sometimes even third time to ensure that I had correctly understood what was meant.
Our heroine, Avery, is seemingly written as a smart youth; strong and witty, she’s the perfect savior for little June. It’s a lovable, mother-like quality to see in a character that has no choice but to do whatever is necessary to safely see her sole surviving family member through life, and yet Avery seems to be lacking the common sense, or even instinct, that most characters of her protective nature tend to have. For example: when the Lurkers, a mutant, wolf-like creature, track Avery to the cave that she and June call home and marks it as their territory, Avery is frightened and, as she should, determines that the cave is no longer a safe place for the two girls to live.
That is, all in all, a pretty solid reason to stay away and find a new home, right? Nope. Apparently Avery isn’t quite that bright, because after she saves her love-interest Will and his siblings from a near massacre at their waterfront cave, she knowingly brings them back to the very same cave that she knows must be abandoned for safer refuge. This sudden change in the way Avery behaves, gives me, the reader, the feeling that it was forgotten why Avery and June were leaving their cave, and then later re-added as if it was a sudden epiphany after Avery, June, Will, and his relatives had already made themselves comfortable. Given how Avery had been portrayed up until this point, this decision seemed extremely unusual and out-of-character.
The second major issue I encountered while reading Planet Urth, and the one that most heavily affects my rating, is the choice of words used and the originality that encompasses them. I don’t feel as if it is necessary for me to go into the reasons why I don’t care much for the word “Urth.” That one is, in my opinion, fairly self-explanatory. What really, truly, pressed my buttons in regards to language, is the fact that it seemed as if the authors (for those that didn’t read the acknowledgment at the end prior to the new book cover or simply bypassed studying it, Planet Urth was actually written by a husband and wife duo) tried a bit too hard to expand their vocabulary when a more simplistic approach would have worked just fine, if not better. For instance: the line regarding Will’s muscles and how they “intertwined and galloped” down his arm. Muscles. Galloped. I don’t know about you, but when I think of galloping muscles, an attractive boy is hardly the first image on my mind: rather, I picture a horse. I’m fairly certain that “horselike” is not the image they meant to pain for Will, but that is how he will be forever ingrained in my mind.
At least the plot was good, right?