Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Endangered, adjective: Threatened with extinction or immediate harm.
Australia, noun: A good place to become endangered.
Alexander Price has survived gorgons, basilisks, and his own family—no small feat, considering that his family includes two telepaths, a reanimated corpse, and a colony of talking, pantheistic mice. Still, he’s starting to feel like he’s got the hang of things…at least until his girlfriend, Shelby Tanner, shows up asking pointed questions about werewolves and the state of his passport. From there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to Australia, a continent filled with new challenges, new dangers, and yes, rival cryptozoologists who don’t like their “visiting expert” very much.
Australia is a cryptozoologist’s dream, filled with unique species and unique challenges. Unfortunately, it’s also filled with Shelby’s family, who aren’t delighted by the length of her stay in America. And then there are the werewolves to consider: infected killing machines who would like nothing more than to claim the continent as their own. The continent which currently includes Alex.
Survival is hard enough when you’re on familiar ground. Alex Price is very far from home, but there’s one thing he knows for sure: he’s not going down without a fight.
Another good installment in the InCryptid series. I still miss Verity’s voice, but Alex is pretty fun, too, with a lively sense of sarcasm. That seems to be a requirement for their family.
One of the things I liked most about this novel was that we got a lot more world-building. There’s been a lot of that throughout the previous three books, of course, but now we’ve finally left the United States to see how they do things in Australia. And no, it’s not always pretty and no, it’s not always as inclusive as the Prices try to be. But there are some good reasons for that, and at least there are people trying to change ‘the way it’s been’, people who are trying to be and do better. But in the meantime, the expansion to the world of the InCryptid series is phenomenal. Especially the way we get to see Alex updating ‘wildlife guides’ (and geeking out over that) as well as the growing understanding of cryptids that were previously thought to be understood (something that tends to happen in most of the novels in this series).
I also really enjoyed the characters. It’s easy to see Shelby’s family as a mirror to the Prices – Alex himself draws several comparisons, as well as several contrasts – and that helps make things familiar-but-different both for readers and Alex himself. Part of that explains the mistakes Alex makes, but part of it allows McGuire to get away with having her characters not talk to each other.
Yes, that’s right. A lot of the conflict in this novel would have been completely eliminated if characters would a) talk to each other and b) be willing to actually listen without engaging their various prejudices. But the characters feel real, for the most part, with me throwing out a caution that I think people in the position of the Thirty-Six Society would be more willing to listen to an imported expert. Personal opinion, although given the atmosphere of paranoia being whipped up combined with Alex’s family history… Well, maybe it is believable.
If you’ve enjoyed the other books in this series, you’ll probably like this one, too. Although this one is a bit more chaotic than some of the previous ones, and with a bit less reason IMHO.
3.5 out of 5 stars (a bit of a pattern seems to be emerging here where I like the odd-numbered ones better than the even-numbered ones….).