I received a free copy for this book from the author via YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
This book was a mixture of quite a few genres. There was a Science Fiction, Horror, and a hint if inspirational/Christian Fiction. I never would have thought that these things would blend well together, but somehow, they did.
The story is told from the point of views of three different characters. Jennie is a 19-year old college sophomore, Hugh is a 27-year old high school teacher, and Brad is a 23-year old mechanic.
Jennie was obviously the main character of the novel, and when the story began she was dealing with the awkwardness that comes with being 19. There were times when she wanted to assert her independence, and fought her parents efforts to guide and protect her, but on another level, she wanted them to be there for her. I think we have all gone through this process. You want to be an adult when it comes to how late you get to stay out, but as soon as it’s time to pay the bills, you want your parents to see you as a kid again and take care of it. That is pretty much where she was in her life, but everything was magnified by the fact that the world was ending.
Aliens descended upon the earth a year prior to when this story began. The first thing they did was attack the sun and cause the world to be cast in a perpetual late evening sort of haze. Next they poisoned the water supply, making it un-drinkable, and lastly they released a horde of ravenous lion-like creatures whose bites infect humans with a virus that turns them into zombies. Jennie finds herself having to care for he five-year old brother all by herself, and trying to do everything that she can to keep them alive. Along the way she meets up with brothers, Hugh and Brad, and a few other survivors, and they all attempt to make it to a military base so they can be relatively safe from the latest plague.
Brad was a very strange character. I knew that he was a jerk the first time I got to see things from his perspective. He has a hatred for his older brother, Hugh, that made absolutely no sense to me. Other than wanting to be taken care of financially and use women, his strongest desire is to hurt his brother whenever and however he can. However, this was not a quintessentially evil character. One of his first actions in this book is to risk his life in order to save a stranger, and there are moments when I am sure that he had sincere feelings of respect and admiration for Jennie. There were times when he was a complete coward, but there were other times when he was almost reckless in how much he did not fear the situations that he was in, and still other times when his actions were more than decent. I like the fact that the author didn’t fall back on writing a character who was easy to hate. I don’t like most of the decisions that he made, and I know I shouldn’t like him, but I do. There is plenty of room for him to grow and become a better man in future books, but right now, his selfishness and hatred is preventing him from being the man who I caught a few glimpses of in this book.
Hugh was not as well-developed as the other characters. He is a scientist and thinks like a scientist so he lacked the passion that the other two characters exhibited. He was very brave, intelligent, and kind, and I couldn’t help but like him though. Every now and then, he would have moments of awkwardness (usually brought on by an interaction with Jennie), and I grew to like him more and more when those moments happened. I like my heroes to have a few chinks in their armor, but most of the time those imperfections come in the form of the dark and brooding leading man. Hugh is the exact opposite of that character. He has a sort of calm maturity that mixes well with a very pure and innocent spirit, and that leads people to misunderstand his intentions. It is hard to believe that someone could really be motivated by goodness the way that he is, but he is, and I like it. He will make a great leader in the not too distant future.
There is a hint of romance in this book, and although a love triangle could develop later, it is unlikely. Even if Brad grows up and becomes a good man, he will always only be half the man his brother is in Jennie’s eyes. The age difference between Hugh and Jennie is mentioned a few times, and the two of them see this as an obstacle that should keep them apart, but I disagree. Because she is 19 and he is 27, the eight year age difference is a lot, but when you factor in all that Jennie has seen and the fact that she is basically raising a five-year old alone, it is not hard to believe that she is emotionally mature enough to handle a relationship with an older man. They provide each other with something that they both need, and I hope that their relationship continues to develop and strengthen.
The cliffhanger at the end let me know that all of the characters are temporarily in a safe place, but their journey is not complete so I very much want to read what happens next. This was a fresh take on the zombie, alien, and dystopian genres, and I enjoyed it very much.
Because of violence, I would recommend this book for ages 13 and up.