Rise of Howlers

Young Adult - Horror
196 Pages
Reviewed on 08/01/2018
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Author Biography

Bob Bannon lives in West Hollywood, California. He is the author of two self-published novels - Rise of Howlers and Jonah Havensby.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Rise of Howlers by Bob Bannon is a dystopian young adult novel set on the high seas. Around ten years previously a massive meteor shower struck the earth and, along with almost wiping out civilization, much of the earth’s land mass was forever altered and inundated with sea water. Seven-year-old Nick Moran was one of the lucky ones who survived the initial meteor shower, and the subsequent virulent infection, by sheltering in a purpose-built bunker with his family and their friends. Now seventeen, Nick has lost his family to the infected humans, colloquially called “Howlers” (similar to zombies in many ways) and lives with other survivors, aboard a cruise ship that sails up and down the American west coast, calling into towns and villages from time to time, to refuel and stock up on whatever they can scavenge; always on the lookout though, for the vicious and deadly howlers. When Nick meets and saves young Harper Chin from an attack by howlers, the attraction between the youngsters is immediate and a friendship, with the beginnings of a romance, starts to flourish aboard the Swan of the Seas.

Although Rise of Howlers is targeted as a young adult novel, I found it readable and enjoyable as very much not a young adult. The universal themes of friendship, love, family, self-discipline, and cooperation are applicable to readers of all ages. Author Bob Bannon’s writing style is relaxed and simple, making the book extremely enjoyable, effectively read in just a single sitting by me. The pace is naturally fast, given that much of the action revolves around battling zombie-like creatures, but what I particularly enjoyed was that Bannon took the time to develop the inter-personal relationships of some of the characters on board the ship. The highlight of the story, for me anyway, was the sweet, developing relationship between Nick and Harper. Both of them had suffered great losses and serious pain in their short seventeen years, but they had finally found each other and were slowly opening up and sharing their innermost thoughts, which was excellent. I think Bannon did a wonderful job of balancing the action with the softer, sweeter moments of the story. Although this is a standalone novel, the author did leave the door open to a sequel, which I sincerely hope is in the works. This is an excellent story for all lovers of the horror/dystopian genre, with a hint of romance thrown in for good measure.

A. L. Peevey

In Bob Bannon’s Rise of Howlers, survivors of a catastrophic meteor shower live on an operational cruise ship, The Swan of the Seas. With most of the world’s population gone and vast regions of the earth changed, mutated humans now prowl the cities’ ruins, attacking and killing any survivors they find. Rise of Howlers focuses on the experiences of two seventeen-year-olds; Nick Moran, who grew up on the ship, and Harper Chin, who encounters Nick during a foraging expedition on land. After being accepted by the ship’s council, Harper becomes close to Nick, and they spend as much time together as possible in the regimented but necessary routine of life aboard ship. Then, after years of radio silence, a cryptic call for help from a previously unvisited place brings the daily routine to a halt as the ship’s citizens meet to decide how to respond to the plight of other survivors.

Bannon’s Rise of Howlers captures the human element of surviving despite overwhelming odds. With an eye for description, I can see virtually every one of his characters in my mind, including how they dress and the seemingly mundane things they take pleasure in. More importantly, his story provides us with an intriguing read and a fresh take on the so-called zombie genre. The mutants, however, remain more a backdrop to the daily doings of the characters as they strive not only to survive, but to maintain some predictable normalcy in their confined community. Much of the book describes the concerns of the teens, Nick and Harper, and their peers, but Bannon never allows adolescent angst to overwhelm the story, nor does it become the gore fest so common in this kind of story. Rise of Howlers is an entertaining read and comes recommended.

Christian Sia

The Meteor Shower is how survivors describe the tragedy that happened to Earth ten years ago, destroying life and leaving few survivors. Two asteroids collided in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. This event ensured one of the worst tragedies the planet has ever known, fire pouring down with an impact that devastated an extraordinarily large portion of life on the planet. What became of the survivors is what this story is all about. Taking refuge aboard a cruise ship called the Swan of the Seas, the bold survivors are almost certain they have found a home until a new threat emerges: a kind of bacteria that appears to have been unleashed by the meteors and that turns victims into horrible creatures known as the Howlers. Who can survive this new curse?

Rise of Howlers by Bob Bannon is the kind of book you read and feel like you’ve had a terrible nightmare, thanks to the author’s imagination and ingenious storytelling. The conflict is introduced right away and the reader meets protagonist Nick with seven other men on the watch, leaving the ship and scouting out a deserted beach. It’s a response to a distress call, and what happens next will grab the attention of readers and keep them reading this book until its very last page. Bob Bannon creates very compelling characters in Nick Moran, his mother who keeps a journal, Harper Chin, Dr. Nichols, and many others. This is a spellbinding story that will send chills down readers' spines. Rise of Howlers features great prose, offers great images of the setting, and builds a conflict upon which the story hinges, a crisis that readers will be keen to follow as it evolves. Rise of Howlers is both entertaining and gripping.