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Em Garner

Author of Contaminated

3 Works 168 Members 18 Reviews


Works by Em Garner

Contaminated (2013) 146 copies
Contaminated 2: Mercy Mode (1961) 21 copies


Common Knowledge




Mrs_Tapsell_Bookzone | 16 other reviews | Feb 14, 2023 |
I tend to like post-apocalyptic type books which I would definitely classify this one under so I think my rating is probably a little higher than it might be for other people.

I enjoyed the conflicting personality of Velvet, our main character, even if the author did pick a rather odd name, seemingly for the main point of just being odd. (Em Garner did bring up Velvet's name a few times and it's significance - which is basically nothing.) I like that Velvet seemed real. She had a lot of shit to deal with and did in such a way that seemed real. She had to right for her sister to be under her guardianship after seemingly losing both parents, she had to get a part-time job to continue to pay for their housing and other household goods, she was still trying to graduate and get her GED, she was trying to maintain a healthy relationship with her friends (more like boyfriend); and yes while that is a lot, there are definitely people out there who deal with the same kind of issues today even without it being a post-apocalyptic atmosphere in the world. She had mental and emotional breakdowns like any real person would and thought the way in which Em Garner chose to show this felt real. However, when it comes to "real", that was about the only thing about this book that felt that way.

Velvet's sister Opal (another strangely chosen name) felt a little too young for me through her actions. Garner chose to depict her as a 10 year old and while there are definitely things that would make one feel as though she is 10, there were things she did that were more reminiscent of a 5-8 year old. Ten year-olds are in about 5th grade and at that age, temper tantrums are pretty much a thing of the past. Opal has at least one full out temper tantrum and other things she says or does would definitely make one think she is more like 6 years old, not 10. I would also feel that for a character who has experienced as much as Opal has, that she would be more tough and understanding on things that Velvet has to enforce (like purchasing inexpensive, healthier food options at the grocery store), but instead Opal will whine and complain hoping to get her way. Hmmm, this sounds like something a kid would do more-so at the age of 3-6. Not very realistic Em Garner.

Also very unreal was the insta-love relationship between Velvet and her later found boyfriend. Yes, I realize it was at first a crush: she sees him, he's cute, he looks at her in that "special" way, he offers to help her, etc. Yes she had just dumped her previous boyfriend because he was a cheating rat. But seriously?! It doesn't happen like this! I remember being this young once (granted it was only 8 or so years ago), but it doesn't happen like this! Perhaps if Garner had chosen to introduce the love interest into the story before the mid-way point (he is introduced on page 226 and the book only has 330 pages), the beginning of their relationship may have felt a little more realistic and less forced/fake.

Something else that bothered me was the hinting at the government side of the "Contamination". There were 3 or 4 different times that government/industries/center of disease control were brought up and the author didn't really go ANYWHERE with this part of the story. This made these parts feel almost irrelevant. Hearing the information didn't make it feel any more "real" because Velvet had heard about it on the news from the government/industries/center of disease control. I realize that the story was told through the eyes of a teenager, but I would suddenly become very interested in the story when these parts were brought up and I would have loved to have seen these parts developed and fleshed out more fully for the reader to understand the issues of the contamination more fully. It was obvious that Velvet didn't really understand which made the reader not really understand, but it would have felt a lot more satisfying to understand the issues a little more fully.

Lastly, I thought the writing style/voice was okay, but definitely not top rated. There were several sentences throughout the entire book that didn't flow very well. I felt myself stumbling over the structuring and word choices of the sentences. I had to re-read these parts a few times. I immediately thought of my students who would actually read this and know that they would struggle with not only those parts that I found difficult, but also parts that I felt more comfortable with. Therefore, some of the editing seemed a little off.

Overall, I liked the plot and the main character. Her struggles felt real and I appreciate the ways in which Garner portrayed these issues and the ways in which Velvet overcame them. 3.25 stars overall.
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courty4189 | 16 other reviews | Mar 24, 2021 |
I was dubious about this, after skimming some of the reviews. And it is true that there's an awful lot of exposition and back story to drag down the forward motion of the story. But I ended up liking this book a lot, mainly for the heroine, Velvet. Without being sappy or too competent, she takes charge of her life and works to bring her "zombified" mother back to humanity, in very believable ways. I am a big fan of "what if" stories, and this seemed quite believable to me, a gorier version of [b:The Age of Miracles|12401556|The Age of Miracles|Karen Thompson Walker||17382941] (a big favorite of mine). I thought the conclusion was effective and satisfying...… (more)
MaximusStripus | 16 other reviews | Jul 7, 2020 |
Thin pro has caused millions to become contaminated with a zombie like virus that leaves holes in the brain and causes the victims or "connies" to be violent. The virus is not known to be contagious but there is mandatory and random testing for the virus and known connies are tested on , lobotomized and shock collared. Velvet's mom is a connie that use to be shock collared but has shown signs of recovery after Velvet illegally took her mom's collar off with a paper clip. The soldiers rounding up people for testing are becoming even more violent and Velvet's world is turned up side down after a house fire breaks out and Velvet is brought in for testing . I loved the main character Velvet and was hooked from the very beginning wanting to know what was going to happen next.… (more)
amym53 | Sep 27, 2014 |

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