As chaos descends on a crippled Earth, survivors are tormented by strange psychic gifts. In this time of apocalyptic despair, love is put to the test. One woman with mysterious healing power guides seven children to safety. Charismatic Arthur offers her a haven. Slowly Emma falls for him. But at the moment of their sweetest love, his devastating secret is revealed, and they are lost to each other.
Book Review: ★★★★★★
When I first came across this book I was skeptical. Mainly because post-apocalyptic stories have a tendency to be depressing, and hard to read. That, and the book description was very reminiscent of The Road — which was one book that I wish I hadn’t read. However, I have also read Slatton’s previous book, Immortal, and absolutely loved it. Her writing style is intense, and simply fun to read. So when I was offered the opportunity to read and review this book, I was willing to take the chance.
The beginning of this book is a little stilted, and it is almost as if the reader is simply thrown into the storyline without introduction. It was a little disorienting, as there is very little time to “meet” the characters, and figure out what had happened to the world the reader had suddenly found themselves thrown into. But this abrupt entry into the devastated world is short lived, before Slatton’s natural storytelling ability takes over and the reader finds themselves engrossed in another well envisioned story world.
This book is very well written, and is another great example of Slatton’s creative abilities. (But the reader is going to want to remember going in that this is the first of a trilogy — or you will find it very depressing, and even fatalistically frustrating.) Slatton has once again allowed her ability with words to develop a post apocalyptic world that draws the reader in, and allows them to work towards the struggle of survival right along side the characters. The characters are compelling and real in that Slatton is not afraid to develop characters that are more than one dimensional. They have weaknesses, and compulsions that are both horrifying and ennobling. Slatton has developed characters that have the courage to face a failing world, while at the same time demonstrating not only everything that is right about mankind, but everything that is wrong, as well. All of these characters are more than they appear on the surface. They are each confronted with a devastating situation that brings out not only the best, but the worst in each of them at the same time. It is all of these varying traits that gives the reader pause, and the opportunity to reflect on what actually makes up an individual, and why we — as a species — are given these vastly different character traits. These vast differences ultimately beg the question why are such emotional characteristics an overwhelmingly important part of the human experience?
But Slatton’s real strength is her ability to present themes that are both controversial, and immediate. This book does carry the classic struggle between good and evil — but there is so much more than that. Slatton demonstrates that it is impossible to classify individuals as purely good or evil. We are all subject to the same emotions — and it is only our ability to respond to those emotions that truly set us apart from other creatures. Love, hate, joy, sorrow, altruism, the need for justice, guilt, shame, the lust for revenge. These compelling emotions are found in all people — and Slatton’s characters in this book give us a great example of this concept. She also eloquently demonstrates that people are not always what they appear to be on the surface. Both Arthur and Alexi are not strictly the definition of good and bad. And each of them have both horrifying traits, and surprising depths for both evil and good. And it is this mix that not only makes these characters realistic — but it is the same mix that makes individuals human, and vibrantly alive. Theses are the reasons that readers identify with the characters Slatton develops.
This book is a little dark — and there are some very graphic scenes in the way of violence and brutality. And this is one book that I would qualify as an adult read, with adult themes. But this book didn’t have the overwhelming fatalism that was found in The Road. There is always an underlying theme of optimism, and survival that is much more pronounced than the depressing elements of other apocalyptic literature that I have read. Overall, this one is well worth the read, and I look forward to the future installments of this trilogy.
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