Cover Image: Drop by Drop

Drop by Drop

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Member Reviews

Drop by Drop centers around the town of Sycamore River where suddenly plastic begins to melt. Whether a large item or the small parts within most of the things we use daily. The concept sells itself as Sci Fi thriller, but Llywelyn focus more on the citizens of this small town and how this disruption impacts their already messy lives. I was looking forward to how humanity on a micro level deals with such an apocalyptic scenario, but unfortunately the unraveling of the fall out was so slow it stayed squarely inside small town minutiae.

Overall, I think the concept was promising but the writing fell very short. The narrative switches between characters POV seamlessly which doesn't work as well in books as it does in a movie, which it seems like the author was going for a "cinematic" feel. This writing style may appeal to some readers but did not work for me.
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I tried to get into this book a year ago, and it wasn't really my thing. Seeing as it had been a while, I tried again, but again, I never really jammed with it. Unfortunately a DNF for me.
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A wonderful read that really surprised me. It's set-up with a science fiction premise, all plastics in the world are melting or breaking down (at random); but in actual fact the book is about the characters in a small town and how they cope with daily life as things around them stop working. 

Easily the best part of this book is the characters. I loved or loved to hate them all. All the classic archetypes are here: the rich snob, the smart entrepreneur, the poor family with too many children, the cranky hermit, etc. And each of them is set-up and developed in such a way that you aren't bored or bogged down by too many details. Morgan Llwelyn does a wonderful job of introducing a lot of people without loosing the main plot/push of the story. I will say that near the beginning it's a bit overwhelming to meet so many characters but if you hang in there you will find that it's not so bad as the story progresses and each character starts to be defined further. 

Near the beginning of Drop by Drop Llywelyn comments on how we (as a society) have allowed ourselves to become so reliant on technology and computers. Interestingly this is the second book in three months that I've read where the author specifically pointed this out. The concern of course being that if technology, the internet, satellites, or any sort of product that supports them breaks down (for whatever reason) then everything starts failing. From cars to information sharing to medical devices to refrigerators; we've put technology of some sort into everyday items that we cannot (reasonably) live without. This leaves us very vulnerable. 
It's enough to make you really think about daily life as the plastics in Llywelyn's book start to break down. For example; did you know that most tires are no longer made of solely rubber? They have a synthetic (plastic) additive to make them cheaper these days. Did you know that most toilets aren't entirely ceramic? Or that your appliances have plastic/synthetic components in them? Once you really start to think it becomes apparent that almost everything would breakdown into nothing. 

Conspiracy Theories & Communication Breakdowns
During Drop by Drop we learn that there is no explanation to the breakdown of synthetic items made of certain man-made components. We also start to see the ability to travel and pass information along become a barrier. Our small town setting quickly becomes isolated and reverts back to the 'old days' modes of communication. Including an eclectic, odd combination of town folks that get together every Wednesday night group. It's like an 1800's salon setting and is easily one of the moments in the book where you realize how important it is to have a variety of opinions and perspectives in your life. 

I absolutely adore this book and cannot wait for the next one. There is a mini-cliffhanger to draw out into the second book; but certainly if you weren't intrigued by the breakdown of society near the end you could read this on it's own and still really enjoy it. I cannot wait to see more of the science, conspiracies and (most importantly) our characters coping with all the changes in the next book. Llywelyn may be known of her Celtic Irish novels but there is no doubt that she can write science fiction with the best of them. I hope Drop by Drop doesn't get put aside by sci-fi fans because she isn't a 'sci-fi writer' usually. It would be a shame for Drop by Drop to be missed out by those who will likely love it. I also believe that Drop by Drop is a great introduction into dystopian science fiction for those that prefer a character driven story. The science is really interesting but it's not the core of the story. Like I said before this is a story about people coping with extraordinary circumstances. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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It starts off slow and kind of dense, but once the action begins, it's hard to resist the story as it drives forward. It reads as a true epic, one that makes you feel the world really has been reshaped as you read it. Would recommend.
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I had really high hopes for this one. The premise of the series is fascinating. A world in which all plastic melts? That sounds intense and crazy and also a little like a social commentary on our over reliance and over usage of plastic. Unfortunately, the story just didn’t come together. It was told in multiple viewpoints, which unless done just right can be annoying and cumbersome, as was the case here. Also, I didn’t like any of the characters and found myself getting bored and putting the book down. Overall it just wasn’t what I was hoping for.
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Thank you to netgalley I received this as an ARC. I enjoyed it very much was good solid read. Solid 2.5 Stars for me!
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I wasn't much of a fan of this story, it just didn't hold my attention and I found myself a little bit bored through it, it was just missing something.
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Published by Tor Books on June 26, 2018

Drop by Drop is a concept in search of a purpose. The concept is interesting. Everything made of petrochemicals, including plastics and most car tires, has started to disintegrate. Not everything has disintegrated at once, but things that aren't made of metal or wood are coming apart drop by drop, seemingly at random.

Here's how Morgan Llywelyn sets up the concept: Bank employee Dwayne Nyeberger sees Lila Ragland in the town of Sycamore River and is convinced she has come back to ruin him. Lila, the town’s party girl, has been missing and presumed dead for years. Eleanor Bennett, whose bank card was just rejected by an ATM as it turned to goo, doesn’t need Nyeberger's drama. Other bank customers are having similar problems; their cards, like the pens in the bank, are dissolving, drop by drop. Head teller Bea Fontaine asks her worldly nephew, Jack Reece, what might be making the plastic melt, but he doesn’t have a clue.

So far, so good. But having established the concept, what does Llywelyn do with it? Not nearly enough. Lila was planning to bring cybercrime to Sycamore River but that plan went south when her AllCom (a futuristic smartphone) melted to goo. Robert Bennett, the town’s wealthy industrialist, dies in an explosion at his company headquarters. His widow, Nell, gets over that pretty quickly and begins a romance. The plot offers an underdeveloped murder mystery, a dull love story, and the banging drums of a Sino-Russian war that nobody knows much about, given the difficulty of obtaining news in the age of goo.

As a post-apocalyptic novel, Drop by Drop is surprisingly uneventful. Since “the Change” happens slowly, people adapt to it with a minimum of fuss. They complain about horse manure in the streets when a local entrepreneur opens a horse-and-buggy taxi service, but readers might find it difficult to view an excess of horse poo as an apocalyptic event.

Perhaps the story is meant to demonstrate the resilience of humanity by showing how the characters cope with a life without plastic, but mostly they cope by meeting in a tavern once a week and pondering the cause of the Change, which [mild spoiler] we never learn [/mild spoiler]. However, the characters are so drab that challenging them with an actual crisis might at least have motivated them to do something interesting. Some characters refer to head teller Bea as “Aunt Bea,” and she reminded me of Aunt Bea from the old Andy Griffith Show — a pleasant person who frets a good bit but has no discernible personality. Most of the characters in the book could be described in the same way. The Andy Griffith Show at least had Barney Fife and Otis the town drunk to add humor to a sedate town. The characters in Sycamore River inspire yawns rather than laughs.

Drop by Drop is apparently the first novel of a trilogy, so explanations of key events in the novel might eventually be forthcoming. So little happens in Drop by Drop, however, that I don’t feel motivated to read the remaining novels. The concept is interesting, but Llywelyn’s purpose in writing the novel never becomes clear. If she meant to say something meaningful, she had an entire book in which hint at it. I lack the patience to read two more novels to figure out why she wrote this one.

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To be completely honest with you, this book was shit. I am so disappointed because the premise had such promise. A world in which all the plastic starts to melt? Yaaaassss. Computers would break down. Cars would fall apart. There would be no more television or phones, and if you didn't have a completely metal radio you'd be screwed. But instead of focusing on society breaking down and something actually exciting, the author chose to focus on a small town that could no longer use pens.

Everything about this book disappointed me. I'm a huge fan of the apocalyptic genre and I thought this was going to be great. Unfortunately, it was boring, somewhat underdeveloped, and the characters were dull and unlikeable. I obviously won't be carrying on with the series.
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Excellent premise and pretty well executed. Some parts were a bit slow and there were a lot of characters to keep straight, but I enjoyed the story. I would recommend this book due to the original idea that has refreshed the apocalypse genre. I look forward to reading more by this author!
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Book Review
Title: Drop by Drop (Step by Step #1)
Author: Morgan Llywelyn
Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopian/Thriller 
Rating: ****
Review: The premise of Drop by Drop was very interesting, so I requested it on NetGalley. I used to read a lot of dystopian novels but have been on a real fantasy kick lately. The opening to Drop by Drop was quite interesting, we are introduced to a variety of characters including Nell, Bea and Dwayne as the incident begins. The incident itself is that all plastics mysteriously begins to melt, at first nothing seems amiss as ATM’s swallow bank card but when pens and other devices containing plastic begins to melt too it seems a little odd. However, we are also introduced to a suspected murder of Lila Ragland and this has a very strong connection to Dwayne.
As we approach the ¼ mark in the novel, the incident is limited at first to small plastic items like pens and bank cards, but pretty soon larger things are being affected like Bea’s dishwasher. So far, we haven’t got much going on other than introducing the characters and the incident, but I can wait to see how the characters will react when all the technology stops working as they rely quite heavily on it especially in the form of AllComs which are laptops, phones and tablets all rolled into one and everyone has one. After a little while the incident is dubbed the Change and not every characters who are scientists understand what is going on as it is impossible for plastics to melt at such low temperatures but that is what they appear to be doing. I was really enjoying the relationships between the characters and I also liked the theories some of the characters were developing about the change especially the industrial espionage theory.
As we cross the ¼ mark in the novel, the Change is spreading to larger items and it seems to be happening all over the world and no one seems to concerned until the technology stops working. This is a problem for Bennett and his company, but it also seems that Nell, their children and the dogs have gone missing as well. As things like computers and the AllComs start dying panic is slowing beginning to creep in and you can feel the character’s panic as they desperately try to maintain some normality as the world begins to fall apart.
As we approach the halfway mark in the novel, panic is spreading throughout the world especially in technologically advanced countries like America where the novel is set. As the ripple effect begins the evil side of panic is showing with violence rising. Those who can afford it are buying alternative to plastics in anything they can and smart people like Jack are trying to find permeant solutions. However, this becoming increasingly difficult when the world wide web drops out and any form of communication outside old fashioned methods is virtually impossible. 
As we cross into the second half of the novel, the novel despite the slow start is quite interesting and we see the change spreading and how the host of characters are trying to cope and adapt to it. As the world descends further and further into chaos with no one having a suitable idea about what is causing the change or how to stop it most people are left to their own devices. However, things are going to get worse as most money is kept in banks run by technology which is literally crippling the world. However, there is a small group of people who are moving back to old school technology for example, using horse and cart instead of cars as only older models of car can be used anyway.
As we approach the ¾ mark in the novel, I must really commend Edgar as he is the first person to voice the fact that if all plastics are being affected sooner or later the munitions and nukes will be affected too. People seem to be adjusted to life with the change, but violence is on the rise, with fights, stabbings and shootings becomes a more common occurrence but life goes on babies are born and people move forward. However, there is a lot of speculation about the change, whether it is natural or man-made and whether or not it is an experiment of some sort. I agree with the experiment theory, but this novel doesn’t seem to be about the change itself, it seems to be more about the characters and how the change affects them and their lives. 
As we cross into the final section of the novel, nothing seems to be progressing just the world dissolving further and further but nothing external seems to be happening. However, the changes seems to be slowing or stopping altogether as it has been 3 to 4 weeks for some since things have dissolved. Life seems to be getting better for the characters, but the escalated violence is still a problem. The ending of this novel leave an opening for the sequel, but I felt this makes a nice story by itself and could have made better if there was more explanation about the change itself. But I still really enjoyed Drop by Drop.
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In a world where all plastic has liquified (not a bad thing, perhaps, seeing as our world is being buried in plastics of all kinds), the impact of this event affects everything around us. I would say that the writing could have been a bit more inspired, as some parts seem bland and insipid, but this is only my opinion.
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DROP BY DROP by Morgan Llywelyn is based on an intriguing premise: everything plastic is melting so modern necessities – like ATMs, medical devices, computerized navigation and communications, even plastic pens – all stop working. This, of course, results in a catastrophe and Llywelyn then intermixes that with the personal struggles of several small town inhabitants.  However, the story itself does not seem to really hang together. The time period is unclear, too, with references to Adolf Hitler as if he was a contemporary leader while also describing AllCom, a device that could be considered advanced even in our time.  Overall, this is a confusing read.

I do want to positively acknowledge the fabulous, eye-catching cover which I originally thought would help to make this title an easy, appealing booktalk candidate for high school students.  Sadly,  however, the publisher of DROP BY DROP (Tor, a division of Macmillan) has decided to restrict eBook sales to libraries like ours.  Here are links to two recent articles – from the ALA ("New Tor delay on library ebooks hurts readers, authors and libraries") and Publishers Weekly – with more information on this unfortunate decision. Libraries and librarians promote discovery of new titles and authors. We encourage reading and merit timely, equal access to new titles.  

Links to articles in live post:     AND
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I dnf'd this book very early on, unfortunately. It was very promising, but ultimately read like a high concept sci-fi soap opera. When I expected science fiction mystery, I got small town drama. I really couldn't care less about any character or their stupid first world problems. Ultimately, this book was boring, but if you're more into contemporary and want to try something new, this might be your thing.
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Drop by drop by Morgan llywelyn

In the small American town of Sycamore River something strange is happening. When Nell Bennett tries to withdraw money out of the Sycamore and Staunton Mercantile Bank cashpoint, her card isn’t just chewed, it turns to mush. And then the pens in the bank begin to ooze. You could almost laugh it off but reports on the TV suggest that these random occurrences aren’t limited to Sycamore River or indeed to the United States. In the weeks to come people will look back and know that this was the time when the Change began – when plastic around the world, bit by bit, drop by drop, began to melt.

Drop by Drop is a wonderful book and curiously not at all what I was expecting from its description. It does indeed tell the tale of what happens to a small town when plastic disappears from life, as well as hinting at the repercussions of this phenomenon in a wider volatile world, but this is essentially a novel about how the people of Sycamore River face this challenge and do their best to overcome it. The fact that the Change doesn’t happen at once but is instead an evolving situation really adds something very intriguing to the story.

This is a novel driven by a large cast of fabulous characters. We’re given the time to get to know so many of the inhabitants of this small town, especially the people who work in the bank and their families, scientists, vets, retired people, people keeping quiet about what their jobs actually are, newspaper publishers, and then there’s their offspring. So many lives and I became caught up in them all. I love Morgan Llywelyn’s writing, the way that he makes each character, whether male or female, young or old, individual and unique. Some are likeable, others are far from it, but they’re all interesting, and they’re doing all sorts of incredible things during the Change – you either adapt or you don’t. And some do fall by the wayside and occasionally in the most unexpected ways.

This is a science fiction novel, though. It’s set at some point in the near future. People rely on their AllCom’s for communication, cars are self-driving, but generally life is as we know it. In fact there is a general nostalgia for the old days (when cars had less plastic in them and all of your data wasn’t stored on a device that could melt into useless sludge in just a moment). I liked the fact that many of the characters in Drop By Drop are older, not that this makes all of them wiser.

There’s a message in here clearly as we’re shown what life can be like when plastic oozes out of our lives. How it can be catastrophic, apocalyptic even. So perhaps it’s time we found alternatives? But there’s nothing preachy about the message. This is a thoroughly entertaining and absorbing read from start to finish. This is the first in a trilogy and I can’t wait for the next book, which is set up very well indeed.
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This just goes to show how I can be influenced by a short snazzy blurb and a beautiful cover design. This had all the hallmarks of being a book I would love - dystopian, slightly sci-fi, focussing on the impact on a small town.

And this is a great idea. We rely on man made substances in nearly everything we do, so if something like this truly happened we would be up the proverbial creek without a paddle (especially if it were made of plastic...)
But...and there's no fancy way to say this... this book is not written very well. It's clunky, confusing and full of half baked characters. You would expect in a plot where all the world's plastic is disintegrating, that there would be much more of an 'apocalypse' feel to it. You anticipate that there would be some momentous events as we watch the break down of civilisation before our eyes.

Errrr...nope. Two things sort of happen, and a few people die as a result, but these events are pretty much nothing to do with the dissolution of plastics. And the main characters that we follow in this story just bumble on without any real demonstration of emotion or any hint of having distinct personalities.
Unfortunately all this book will do is encourage your brain to melt out of your ears in the same way the plastics in the story do. Suffice to say I won't be reading the rest in the trilogy.
Thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for this preview copy in return for an honest review.
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I enjoyed the fact that we followed the same small band of folks as this disaster unfolds – and the fact that they lived in a small community. I have a fondness for books depicting small-town America… Initially, we quickly jump across a number of folks as plastic starts to dribble, which had me groaning somewhat. I get awfully tired of the apocalyptic convention of jumping into someone’s head, only for them to die in unpleasant circumstances due to whatever badness is coming to swallow the world. Thankfully, that wasn’t what drove this book, which settles down into something else and I think is a problem, especially for fans of apocalyptic sci fi, as this is small-town USA dealing with disaster – except it often wasn’t. It was more about the protagonists getting on with their lives, with the plastic issue sporadically causing a problem.

There is also an issue with narrative time – phones are now called Allcoms, so presumably this is set in a nearish future, which looks very much like right now. And the book was vague about the passing of time, so I couldn’t get a real sense of how long the townsfolk were dealing with the problem and there are no dates accompanying chapter headings to help out the reader.

However, I don’t want you to go away with the idea this was a trudge – I was able to settle down and enjoy most of the story, thanks to Llewelyn’s smooth prose and economical style. I got caught up in the characters’ lives and found the pages turning themselves – until it came to that ending… I don’t like being bounced at the end of a book, which appears to be winding everything up satisfactorily – only to turn it into a sudden cliff-hanger in the final paragraph. While I understand why it was done, it didn’t work. I shouldn’t finish a book feeling so irritated, which is a shame because those issues notwithstanding, overall this was an enjoyable read. Recommended for readers who enjoy their disasters on a very human scale. While I obtained an arc of Drop by Drop from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
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A veces hay que arriesgar al escoger una lectura, salirse del camino conocido y experimentar con nuevos autores. Es un ejercicio sano, aunque de lugar a decepciones tan tremendas como este Drop by Drop.

La premisa de la que parte el libro es que por alguna razón desconocida, los plásticos empiezan a derretirse. El plástico está presente en casi todos los elementos que utilizamos en nuestro día a día así que me esperaba un mundo en proceso de descomposición y abocado a la destrucción.

Y sin embargo, el proceso por el que los compuestos químicos se deterioran es tan azaroso como conveniente para la autora. Hay cosas que sí se estropean, como los bolígrafos, pero hay coches relativamente modernos que siguen funcionando, porque claro, los manguitos de esos motores deben estar hechos de tungsteno o algo recio, como buen coche americano que se precie. Nada más comenzar la lectura esta aleatoriedad en la destrucción me mosqueaba. Pero ese no era el principal problema.

El ámbito al que se circunscribe la narración es demasiado local, dejando fuera las tensiones propias de las grandes ciudades. En el pueblo en el que se desarrolla la acción, hay bastantes personajes, pero están todos cortados por la misma tijera del estereotipo puro y duro, y acartonados como si les hubieran duchado el almidón. Resultan insufribles en su petulancia y en su previsibilidad.

Al principio del libro viene el que podría considerarse protagonista, a pesar de ser una obra coral, una especie de McGuiver aventurero que viene al pueblo cual vaciacorrales a pasar una temporada con su tía, la del banco. Esa tía del pueblo no es otra que la loca de los gatos que hay en toda población que se precie, pero oye, trabaja en el banco, así que cuando deja de funcionar la informática y tiene que hacerse todo con papel y lápiz, se pone a conceder créditos a diestro y siniestro con el aval de la confianza en la gente del pueblo y cobrando en flores si hace falta. (No me estoy inventando nada, esto es tal cual). Se ve que esta mujer no ha oido hablar de la crisis de los tulipanes.

En el mismo pueblo hay una empresa química avanzadísima, que se dedica a vender "componentes" que pueden tener "otros usos" en el mercado armamentístico. Pero esa misma empresa tiene una seguridad tan irrisoria que se pueden colar cinco niños que son de la piel de Barrabás y provocar un accidente mortal. A ver, si dejas las probetas y los elementos químicos ahí a mano, ¿quién se puede resistir?

Como digo, en el pueblo hay de todo. También hay un anciano que al quedarse viudo debe haberse pasado muchas hojas jugando al Fallout, porque no se le ocurre otra cosa que montarse un refugio nuclear él solico en su casa. Un poco de pico y pala y ya tenemos el "vault" montado para cuando haga falta. Menos mal que hay gente así de previsora en el mundo, si no, nos quedábamos sin libro (sin humanidad también, pero esto es un tema secundario).

Como buen trasunto de Corín Tellado que se precie, hay hijas y nietas secretas que se desvelan en el momento más inesperado para cobrar la parte de la herencia correspondiente. Hay películas de Antena 3 al mediodía con menos carga dramática que un capitulo de este libro.

Os recomiendo encarecidamente mantener una distancia de al menos cincuenta metros alrededor de este libro. No tocarlo ni con un palo, vamos. Y menos si el palo es de plástico.
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Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

drop by drop (Morgan Llywelyn)
Title: drop by drop
Author: Morgan Llywelyn
Publisher: Macmillian-Tor/Forge
Publication Date: TODAY!! (hardback/ebook)
ISBN: 978-0765388667
Source: NetGalley

Well mateys.  I have to admit that this was just an okay read.  This book takes place in a small town in the U.S. with a varied cast of quirky if somewhat two-dimensional characters.  Their problem is that plastics all over the world begin to melt and humanity has to deal with the consequences.  No one knows what started "The Change" but the townsfolk love to speculate.

The small town seems to have relatively little problems overall with losing all the plastic.  Part of the problem with this book is that the stakes seem so low and the town adapts in surprisingly good fashion.  This just seemed unrealistic.  In addition, the core group that ye follow is always poorly debating what caused the Change.  It got old after a bit.

I did enjoy the character interactions and it was a quick read but in general I felt that the execution of the premise was lackluster.  Too many old folk around who can do things like make horse-drawn carriages.  Too much focus on townsfolk interpersonal relationships.  Not really enough description of the plastic problem and the true impact losing it would have on the world.

A pleasant, if forgettable read but I will certainly not be reading any more of the series.  Unfortunate because I liked the concept.

So lastly . . .
Thank you Macmillian-Tor/Forge!

Goodreads' website has this to say about the novel:

In this first book in the Step By Step trilogy, global catastrophe occurs as all plastic mysteriously liquefies. All the small components making many technologies possible―Navigation systems, communications, medical equipment―fail.

In Sycamore River, citizens find their lives disrupted as everything they've depended on melts around them, with sometimes fatal results. All they can rely upon is themselves.

And this is only the beginning . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:
Morgan Llywelyn – Author

To buy the novel go to:
drop by drop - Book

To add to Goodreads go to:
Yer Ports for Plunder List
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“In this first book in the Step By Step trilogy, global catastrophe occurs as all plastic mysteriously liquefies. All the small components making many technologies possible—navigation systems, communications, medical equipment—fail.“

A great premise with potential for lots of catastrophic scenes and society as we know it breaking down spectacularly. Alas, the apocalypse unfolds very slowly, over a longer period of time and slowly dissolving bits and pieces. Not necessarily a bad thing, albeit lacking suspense.

It is told from the changing view of a group of people all living in the same town. Unfortunately, it is done by showing instead of telling and making the reader live through what happens. By the middle of the book that apocalypse is picking up speed and things get considerably worse—sadly lots of it in the off. That continues to the end of the story—any climactic event, any high point of the story happens in the background and the reader is treated to a bland recap of events. Very unsatisfying.

There is not a lot of world building in general and some things simply aren‘t explained enough, do not really make sense or the author actually contradicts herself.

On top of that it is a book full of some very unlikeable people. The characters are all very stereotypical and although this is set in the near future, they are all white, middle class, old-fashioned people with dated attitudes. We have a token black couple and a another couple with an alternative lifestyle, that shows up maybe twice. The women all have about two brain cells between them. Well, Nell actually develops into an almost likeable and not too stupid person by the end.

Worst of all, this book full of the patriarchal world of the last century was written by a woman. Albeit an over 80 years old one. And that certainly shows in the dated writing with its old-fashioned attitudes.

I did not actively dislike the story, despite my misgivings it was pretty readable. However, it is very unlikely that I will read the rest of this trilogy or pick up something else by the author. 

I received this free e-copy from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!
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