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Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton

Hollow Kingdom (2019)

by Kira Jane Buxton

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13713135,246 (4.23)19
One pet crow fights to save humanity from an apocalypse in this uniquely hilarious debut from a genre-bending literary author. S.T., a domesticated crow, is a bird of simple pleasures: hanging out with his owner Big Jim, trading insults with Seattle's wild crows (those idiots), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos ®. Then Big Jim's eyeball falls out of his head, and S.T. starts to feel like something isn't quite right. His most tried-and-true remedies--from beak-delivered beer to the slobbering affection of Big Jim's loyal but dim-witted dog, Dennis--fail to cure Big Jim's debilitating malady. S.T. is left with no choice but to abandon his old life and venture out into a wild and frightening new world with his trusty steed Dennis, where he discovers that the neighbors are devouring each other and the local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators roaming Seattle. Humanity's extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education. Hollow Kingdom is a humorous, big-hearted, and boundlessly beautiful romp through the apocalypse and the world that comes after, where even a cowardly crow can become a hero.… (more)



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This is the story of the zombie apocalypse, as told by ST (short for Shit Turd), a crow who was tamed by a crass human in Seattle. Interspersed in ST's narration are chapters narrated by other animals, such as a spoiled poodle, a grumpy housecat, a polar bear, and a whale. The book is often laugh-out-loud hilarious: ST has a great sense of humor, and it's funny how human ideas and actions get filtered through his crow mind. The chapters narrated by the poodle had me in stitches.

But along with the humor, the book actually has some very beautiful and poignant nature writing. The zombie apocalypse is happening to humans because they failed to adapt and live in balance with the rest of nature, and this is nature's way of fighting back. ST often connects to Aura, the world-wide animal communication network, where he hears what other animals have to say in their unique ways. ST has reverence for the wisdom of octopuses, elephants, and trees. The book is full of wonder at human accomplishments (Cheetos!) and the beauty and harmony of nature. The book is also full of heart: ST is deeply bonded to Dennis the bloodhound, and a lot of his journey is about discovering his own place in nature.

Sometimes the plot meanders a bit nonsensically, and sometimes the movement around Seattle is weird (why do they go to UW Bothell when ST's Ravenna home is so close to UW's main campus?). ST has a strong sense of urgency about what he's supposed to be doing, but goal of his quest keeps changing.

Ultimately, this is a delightful and original and surprising book. ( )
  Gwendydd | Oct 21, 2019 |
Imagine the world has been infected with a terrible virus that turns people into zombie like monsters and all civilization has fallen apart. But, don't lose hope, there is a small group that is fighting the plague and restarting civilization. No, the group isn't a group of teenagers who are hiding out in a mall, but members of the animal kingdom, led by a very atypical leader, a crow. And although the story is filled with a lot of humor that would appeal to crows and possibly teenage boys, there is sacrifice and heroism and plenty of surprises.

Clever story! ( )
  jmoncton | Oct 20, 2019 |
I really liked this book. I am always on the lookout for something different, something original, something I haven't read one hundred times before. I have also been reading a lot of zombie books lately so I kind of think that this book was written for me. This was a different kind of zombie story and one that I won't forget any time soon. I am so glad that I took a chance and decided to give Hollow Kingdom a try.

This story is told almost entirely from S.T.'s point of view. There are a few other characters that get a quick point of view, but this is really S.T.'s story. S.T. is a bird. A pet crow to be precise. He has been dependant on his human, Big Jim, and likes his life. He knows that it is time to venture out on his own when Big Jim loses an eye and goes a little crazy. S.T. and Dennis, Big Jim's hound, leave the house and begin an adventure more intense than they could have ever imagined.

I loved S.T. from the start of this story. I thought that the author did a fabulous job of bringing this bird to life. I felt his uncertainty, his loyalty, and his desire to make things as right in the world as he could. S.T. is a smart little bird with a very large heart. He takes his quest seriously and puts himself at risk in order to save the lives of others. S.T. isn't the only great character in this book. We get to know Dennis through S.T.'s eyes and I couldn't help but fall in love with that dog. There really is a nice cast of characters that help to bring this story together.

I loved the way that this story was told. I was surprised by the level of humor throughout the story. S.T. knew how humans operated based solely on his experiences with Big Jim so his knowledge was a bit skewed. This story was also an emotional one. There were times that I got choked up but the turn the story took. I also appreciated the underlying message of the story. The reason behind the demise of humans is something that I would have to say has had a negative impact on our world in a lot of ways. I also liked the fact that we got to see how the animals fared without our interference and it was quite clear how much better the world can work when we work together.

I would definitely recommend this book to others. This funny, touching, and insightful story was unlike anything that I have read before. I will definitely be reading more from this talented author in the future.

I received a review copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing. ( )
  Carolesrandomlife | Oct 8, 2019 |
Brilliantly realized animal narrative voices--especially that of the hilarious, human-quoting, self-hating, profane S.T., the "enlightened" domesticated crow who yearns to be human. Fluent and funny tale of the zombie apocalypse, as observed by S.T., with the zombified humans (S.T.'s beloved "MoFos") still stupidly lusting after their cell phone screens, Dennis the bloodhound, Winnie the formerly pampered toy poodle, the mystical "omnipotent ninja" Genghis Cat,. and Buxton's conception of the living universe--of Aura and Echo and Web--has a touch of a comic Overstory--are all truly inspired. Almost impossible to describe the crazy pleasures of this wonderfully imagined, original and ultimately serious adventure. Couldn't put it down. ( )
  beaujoe | Oct 4, 2019 |
One afternoon, S.T., a domesticated crow, is hanging out in the backyard with his best friend, Big Jim, and Big Jim's idiot bloodhound, Dennis, when Big Jim leans forward and his eye falls out. This begins the story of the zombie apocalypse, as told by S.T. as he struggles to take care of his radically altered friend, and then to find a solution before human civilization is gone.

The real delight of this book is the voice of the crow, a foul-mouthed aficionado of the MoFos*, who is so desperate to hold his world together that he just might join forces with Dennis and go forth to figure out what exactly is going on and maybe find some delicious Cheetos along the way. This novel takes an often told tale and turns it on its head; while the victims of the virus are human beings, the story is told entirely from the point of view of animals, with S.T.'s chapters interwoven with chapters told from everyone from a self-involved poodle to a polar bear (the chapter told by a cat named Genghis is especially good). Kira Jane Buxton takes the story in new directions, where there are changes happening far beyond what is happening to the humans.

S.T. was raised by Big Jim, a beer-drinking, fast food-eating guy with outsized opinions and a solid devotion to the local sports teams, and S.T. has modeled his behavior and language after his friend. S.T. firmly believes himself more of a MoFo than a crow but along his journey he needs the help of the very creatures he has to adamantly shunned. And, it turns out, they need him. This is not my genre. At all. And yet I couldn't wait to spend more time with S.T., whose love of human kind and distinct crow-ness may just hold the key to survival in this new world.

* Humans ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | Sep 26, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Buxton takes a joyfully original approach to apocalyptic fiction. See, instead of us humans being the focal point in the story of our own extinction, it's the plethora of life that we leave behind that takes center stage.
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