The contents of ARV-3 by Cameo Renae are as dull and unimaginative as its title. It’s a strange mix of the Young Adult and science fiction genres – a clone of Twilight novels that borrowed much of its plot from Fallout video games and whose protagonist is a cheap knock-off of Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games.

The plot is fairly simple: a giant solar flare destroys the planet’s electric grid and causes every nuclear power plant to overheat and blow up. The government doesn’t have enough time to produce a stable anti-radiation vaccine and gives several million people the untested version, which turns them into bloodthirsty cannibals (a la “28 Days Later”) obsessed with revenge. They roam the dead planet’s surface, waiting for their chance to kill the few survivors that hid in underground vaults – or hives, as the author calls them.

The plot, with all its radiation and monsters and underground vaults, appears to have been “borrowed” from old Fallout games, though there’s still the outside chance the author might have come up with it herself. The protagonist is Abigail “Abi” Parks, a 17-year-old girl whose obsession with a 19-year-old boy from her hive is surpassed only by her phenomenal sharpshooting skills. The book follows the misadventures of her hive’s 15 members as they get back to the surface after 13 years and try to get to another, bigger hive.

I had to force myself to finish this book and despite all my efforts, I didn’t find a single creative thought or a witty line of dialogue – not even a memorable quote. The Young Adult angle is hard to believe. (Abi and her boyfriend are in their late teens and never even thought of kissing.) The science aspect (the novel claims to be science fiction, after all) is laughable: the deadly radiation that killed everything on the planet apparently goes away after just 13 years. (Great news, y’all! Chernobyl should be safe to live in again!)

The book is plagued with an overabundance of typos, spelling errors, terrible punctuation, etc. The characters are dull, one-dimensional and even speak the same way.

The plot itself is riddled with holes and features some mighty inconsistent writing: even though all the plants and animals in the world died, three buff cowboys appear out of nowhere at some point in the middle of the book. (They must have been living off photosynthesis!) At one point, an army captain starts taking orders from a sergeant. Later on, we find out that the government has been training survivors and fighting irradiated mutants for 13 years, even though they discovered the mutants’ existence only 3 weeks ago. (Let’s do the time warp again!) At one point, 15 survivors pack up a month’s worth of food and water (about 450 gallons of water 1,350 meals?) and manage to fit it on a cart that they lug behind them. The protagonist’s father is a former NASA scientist and an expert on living off the grid, but he somehow forgets that there’s a large city only miles away from his bunker. (“Gee, where did that come from? Guess we’ll have to go through it now.” – I’m paraphrasing, but the gist is the same.)

Oddly enough, ARV-3 has 75 reviews on Amazon, and almost all of them give the book 4 or 5 stars. I suppose that just goes to show you that if you have enough fans, you can get away with writing just about anything.

Score: 1 star

Buy it on Amazon (if you dare)