Buddy Read: The Upheaval (Jonny Pongratz and Iseult Murphy)

Hello World!

Iseult: Hi!I’m Iseult, I’m an author of  horror, fantasy and science fiction.

Jonny: And I’m Jonny, YA horror author and horror-addict.

This week we did a buddy read of The Upheaval by Erica Stevens.



The First tremors of the earth were felt at 7:22 EST. time. Every single person felt the rumbling, and experienced the tremors that would forever alter the course of history. Most did not survive. These are the accounts of some of those that did.

So why a buddy read?

Jonny: Well actually, this was Iseult’s genius idea, so I’m not going to even take credit. But I will say that once she asked me about it, I was totally on board. Iseult and I have very similar tastes in reads, and it was really easy to find something we were both willing to take a chance on. Also, she’s a good friend of mine, so how could I say no?!

Iseult: I really enjoyed my first buddy read with Ruth Anne Garcia in February, and when I saw Jonny was organizing his TBR list for the rest of the year, I suggested to him that we’d do a buddy read too. As Jonny said, we have similar tastes and I knew it would be great fun to do a buddy read with him, which it was.


Alright, so let’s get right into it! We’ve prepared some questions that we’ll both answer, and we hope you enjoy these as much as we did!


1. There’s a lot of disasters in this book. Earthquake, tsunami, fire, flood to name but a few. How do you think you would cope in this situation?

Jonny: Honestly, I’ve never encountered any of these natural disasters, so I have no clue. I have been through a fair number of tornadoes, so I would do well with that if that was in the roster of “oh crap” disasters.

I think with the flood and fires I would be alright, since those mainly require being fast on your feet and reaching a safe place. However, the idea of an earthquake kind of terrifies me, so I think I would break there. How can you keep your cool when the very earth beneath your feet is straight up disappearing to swallow you alive? Nope, nope, nope!

I would probably try and help those I know around me while maintaining my mentality of stranger danger.

Iseult: As I’ve lived through two earthquakes, I think I would cope just fine. Of course, the ones I’ve experienced merely made the windows rattle, like a large truck passing on the road, and they didn’t wake up the rest of my family, so I might be out of my depth in a situation such as described in the book.

In all seriousness, I don’t know how I’d cope. I hope I’d help others. I’d be worried about keeping my animals safe. I’d probably be praying like a mad thing!


2. They say humanity is three meals away from anarchy, yet the characters in this book haven’t even missed one meal before they fear their fellow man. Do you agree with their conclusion?

Jonny: Honestly, not really, except maybe for Al and possibly Carl. Al was already distrustful of people, so  his conclusion made sense to me. The others, however, didn’t really jive.

I think Mary Ellen and John, maybe even Riley would be at least a tad more trusting than they were portrayed given their personalities.

Iseult: This is one of the things that annoyed me about the book. Yes, there are lots of unpleasant people in the world, but real life disasters have shown that time and again the very best and bravest is brought out in people during times of greatest trial.

I think it is important for a book to explore both types of reactions, but I was surprised that after only a few hours, all the main characters had decided it was the end of the world and therefore anything goes. In the book, the most dangerous people were the main characters!


3. At one point a character looks at John and Carl as if they are velociraptors. Describe what this expression would look like. 

Jonny: Lol. Okay, so my interpretation of a velociraptor is furrowing my eyebrows as much as possible (like you’re mad as hell), then doing the T-Rex arm thing. Oh, and your mouth has to be open like you’re gonna bite someone.

So yeah, when the author wrote this I was very confused and kind of entertained by how someone would react to my insane velociraptor look.

(Iseult: pictures, please Jonny!)

Jonny: … well if you insist, haha!


Iseult: I was very intrigued by this. I assume the author meant surprise, because it would be surprising to see velociraptors. However, if it were me, such an expression would be one of excitement and delight. Since a child I’ve wanted a velociraptor as a pet.


4. Who was your favorite character and why?

Jonny: Probably Rochelle or Al because they don’t drone on and on about their feelings while the world is being destroyed all around them. No deadweights in the apocalypse!

Iseult: Without a doubt, gas station clerk who was crushed by a fluorescent light. RIP, gas station clerk!


5. Which is your favorite natural disaster: earthquake, tsunami, sinkholes, lava, fire, flood?


Jonny: I’m not okay with earthquakes/sinkholes and have a healthy skepticism of the water, so I guess I’m left with fire or lava as my fave. All you need to survive fire is a filled moat around your castle. Everyone has one of those, right? Tada!

And lava, well, just think of the free spa and sauna treatments you’ll be getting. Sounds like a dream come true to me!

Iseult: I love volcanoes, and when I learned in school that they can form very quickly, I became fascinated by this idea. The other disasters are cool, sure, but volcanoes and lava are hot!hot!hot!


6. In the event of a natural disaster, how long before you would start looting and what would you steal first? Car, guns or food?


Jonny: I would definitely not be the first to loot, but I also wouldn’t be the last. Once civilization starts to crumble, I’d take matters into my own hands most likely.

Well, you gotta protect yourself first, so guns, car, then food. I’m pretty stocked up right now on food, so I’d just take my kitchen with me, haha!

Iseult: I would like to think that I would resort to looting only when all other avenues had been exhausted, and only in order of survival. However, in reality – who knows! Probably highly impractical in a natural disaster, but I’ve always wanted to drive a sports car.


7. If you were to experience the events in this novel, who would you go on a quest to find?


Jonny: Probably my mom, MAYBE my brother if he asks really nicely. Then I’d go to a pet shelter so I can pet all the kitties and puppies during the apocalypse.

Iseult: Bill Murray. Apparently he’s good at surviving cataclysms, and I think he’d have some helpful information to pass on.


8. Do you think you could outrun a tsunami?


Jonny: Not to be cocky or anything, but I can run pretty damn fast. Like Pocahontas fast, maybe faster.

But yeah, if that failed, I’m not the best swimmer and I can’t surf either, so legs don’t fail me now!

Iseult: I don’t think I could outrun my bath water!

That’s A Wrap!

Thanks for joining us on our buddy read of the Upheaval! We had a lot of fun, and hope you did too! Though we will not be continuing this series, we will definitely be doing some more buddy reads in the future, so stay tuned!

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  1. See, I knew the two of you each had a sense of humour but I never dreamed of the option of seeing them both come together. This was thoroughly enjoyable, even though that sounds like something I would never want to read. Thank you for sharing, Johnny. Also, I’m not sure if the velociraptor look of yours is that insane… more just confused? hahahah

    • Haha, why thank you!

      Iseult came up with the questions and I think after our experience we both needed to laugh and have fun.

      When I saw the questions I just couldn’t hold back the humor. My middle name is goofball, after all!

      Haha, I think I was trying to do all the things I described for my raptor look, so yeah, probably straining my face a bit too much lol.

      Just imagine me with trex arms running around and it pretty much covers it lol.

  2. Must have been so fun having a buddy read! One of my favorite things about organizing buddy reads is that you get to interact with so many like minded people besides reading books! What’s your favorite aspect?

    • Oh definitely! This is still something new for me, but the main perk for me is that I get to gush or rant about a book as I read it with someone. Sometimes we may not see eye to eye, but it’s nice to have that extra conversation around a novel that I dont usually get.

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