Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Publication Date: 9/6/11
Publisher: Egmont USA
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Blurb(GR): It could happen tomorrow . . .
An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.
Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.
For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.
Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling novel about a world that could be ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.
I don’t read too many of these survival-y books anymore, especially when they’re of the young adult variety. I tend to get bored and zone out when confronted with pages and pages of endless action, but I’m in a book club now and I’m trying to be good. I felt especially obligated to read this one because I already skipped the one from last month. Even though this book is very decidedly an ACTION, gore, survival, DRAMA read, I’m glad I tried it.
The best part of this book for me was that it was narrated by Katherine Kellgren. She’s one of my all-time favorite audiobook narrators, and as Flannery pointed out, I may or may not have somewhat of a crush on this woman. (The most awesome thing is that if we got married and had the same last name, except for our first initials we’d essentially have the same name. That would probably come in handy for taxes and stuff.) The worst part of this book for me was the ACTIONACTIONACTION, which is about 75% of the book. Thankfully, when Katherine Kellgren is narrating those parts she reminds me so much of Anne Shirley reciting The Highwayman in the Kevin Sullivan adaptation of Anne of Green Gables that I couldn’t help smiling through my utter boredom.
This book is wilderness survival from start to finish, but the electromagnetic pulse-activated zombie teenager survival and controlling cult society survival (which she throws in at around the halfway point) really kept me interested. Water rationing/shelter building/foraging for food can only entertain me for so long – give me twisty/dark psychological action and survival and I can hang in there. Ellie is one of the most annoying little girl characters in the entire world, and this is coming from someone who has the kind of tolerance for little girl whining that can only be gained through almost seven years of constant exposure to it. I also had a hard time with Alex’s feelings for Tom (as if you didn’t see that coming). Her perceived connection to him felt way too sudden for me, although by the end of the first half I could see why they would be fairly close.
It’s mainly for these reasons that I am probably the only person (if all of my friends’ reviews are to be believed) who actually liked the second half of this book more than the first. Number one, I was quite happy to see Tom and Ellie exit the stage. Number two, the crazy claustrophobic and misogynistic environment of Rule was so much more interesting than the woods. However, by the end Alex’s voice really started to grate on me - to the point where I actually started longing for a little Ellie time. I felt like Alex spent every single moment when she wasn’t engaging in ACTIONACTIONACTION either debating with herself about hypothetical details or making wild conjectures about Rule – all without spending any time actually looking for evidence that would support her theories. She just makes assumption after assumption after assumption. It drove me insane. Her actions at the end of the book make absolutely no sense to me.
Overall, this was an entertaining read with a fantastic narrator that kept me going through the more tedious portions of my life. It ends on a massive cliffhanger, so be prepared for that. I was unable to stop myself from requesting the sequel and plowing right into it. I’ll be posting a review for Shadows later this week!