CleverHandle’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Penguinhegemony’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Cut to the Chase:
P: I found Jam to be a unique take on the standard apocalypse genre thriller. The setup is unique and playful and deserves praise for its creativity and execution. The character aspect suffered a little with a protagonist that could have been more intriguing and the supporting cast seemed a bit stilted, but overall this weakness didn’t detract much from the overall quality of the book. I would definitely recommend Jam to fans of the genre looking for a bit of fun, or strawberries, to go along with their apocalypse.
CH: I’ve said before that I’m no fan of zombies; here, we have the standard zombie-apocalypse setup sans undead; instead, man-eating strawberry jam quite suddenly takes over Australia. Like most of my favorite apocalypse stories, the tone is humorous, but Croshaw doesn’t use that as an excuse to shy away from exploring humanity at its worst. I agree with Penguinhegemony that the characters were rather weak, but I found this to be a bigger flaw than he did. I also found the plot to be a bit weak or forced in places, sometimes in an attempt to fit in humor. Overall, though, this was an enjoyable book, and it’s made me want to check out Croshaw’s first work, Mogworld.
P: Man-eating jam suddenly appears and devours everything resting below the second story. The hero must band together with other survivors and seek safety in this sweet sticky catastrophe.
CH: Tim, the protagonist, was the most real character for me; most of the others, from the crew of survivors to the various other groups they encounter, were caricatures to some extent. While this was sometimes used to humorous effect, it was often somewhat unbelievable; there’s an American spy who is worse at lying than your average 3-year-old, a whole tribe of mall dwelling hipsters who do everything ironically, an office culture that survives and intensifies despite the deepening jam…you get the idea. There are a few moments of growth, and a few great moments of humanity sinking to its lowest form, but overall you have to really suspend a lot of disbelief to roll with this. (And yes, I realize it is a little unfair to call characters unbelievable when you are starting from the premise of a jam apocalypse, but it took me out of the story at times.)
P: I agree that the characters could have been stronger, but I found the weirdness a welcome departure from the standard apocalypse trope of the survivors behaving abominably towards each other despite every indication that cooperation would be far more beneficial. The few survivors of Croshaw’s Jampocalypse are definitely unhinged, but in my opinion, in a creative and unique way that fit well with this unique apocalypse. It was nice to have characters and a setting distinct enough with the apocalyptic format that I really didn’t know where the story was going to lead, and if that comes with a bit of suspension of disbelief then so be it.
CH: I enjoyed the creativity of the premise, and I also found it refreshing to read a story that is not based in ‘Murica and in which Americans are not the heroes; it was a nice departure from some standard apocalypse stories in that way. I almost wish I hadn’t known who wrote it, though, because as a Zero Punctuation fan it was impossible for me to read this without hearing it in Croshaw’s frantic accented voice, which was a little distracting. (It also feels a little odd to be reviewing the reviewer…) The plot wraps up in a satisfying-enough way, and I definitely enjoyed the read and had some good laughs.
P: I didn’t have much of a problem disentangling the narrative away from the Zero Punctuation format and only a few somewhat distinctive turns of phrase made reminded me of who the author was. I don’t think that you would enjoy this just on the basis of being a Zero Punctuation fan if you don’t think you will enjoy this type of story.
Comparisons to Other Authors:
CH: This most reminds me of Kevin David Anderson’s Night of the Living Trekkies, another humorous apocalyptic tale. I found Jam to just be a little less polished, with more sterotyped characters, slightly more forced humor, and a less cohesive plot than Trekkies.
P: Jam reminds me a bit more of Charles Stross’s The Atrocity Archives. There’s the same British humor, and a similar insane but fitting reaction to the horrific.