First Activation is a post-apocalyptic thriller in which nearly the entire global population is turned into brainwashed puppets with one single purpose – to kill someone then kill themselves. Only a few people are unaffected, having been on airplanes when the phenomenon hit. Four of these, two of them soldiers, set off in a group to try to figure out what is going on and to survive. What they find is more horrifying than anything they can imagine.
First Activation had me torn, I felt at the end like I had read two different books in one. The first half of the book is gripping, powerful and terrifying. It seems at every turn our survivors are faced with yet another threatening situation; and the behaviour of the ‘killers’ is highly disturbing. It took a lot of effort for me to put the book down and go to bed, and I was ready to give it five-stars as soon as I finished it.
The second half of the book was less satisfying, mainly due to the pace and the lack of credibility of the plot. I found the story was rushed, and lacked the detail of the first half of the book. It was like the authors were determined to get to the end as quickly as possible, whereas I much prefer a more drawn out journey, especially when it comes to travelling in a post-apocalyptic world. This was not helped by the sudden lack of tension (for reasons I can’t go into without spoiling the plot), and the ‘threat’ in the second half of the book just never really seemed like a real threat. The actions of the main characters also start to unravel - two men who have refused to kill without great provocation just a few chapters before, suddenly turn into ruthless torturers, which is a tad unbelievable despite their military background.
Prior to the end of the book the cause of the phenomenon is exposed, although the reasons behind it are not fully explained, perhaps this will be in the obvious sequel. I didn't really like the cause as it felt a bit clichéd; I felt an opportunity for a more interesting explanation was missed. Maybe when a fuller explanation is given in the sequel my opinion might change.
Rating First Activation is very hard. As I've said, half of it was OMG and half of it was meh. In the end I have settled for a three and a half star rating (rounded to a four for rating on sites that don’t allow half stars). This is because I did enjoy it, and there were some great bits so I would recommend reading it, but the second half let it down, but not so much that it wasn't enjoyable or something I wouldn't recommend; it is also excellent value at 99p. Fans of sci-fi thrillers will want to ad this to their to-read lists.
On a side note, it was good to see some decent post-apocalyptic fiction coming out of the UK as most authors in this genre are US based, and I really hope the sequel is more like the first half of the book and slows down a bit.
[Review copy provided by BookRooster]