by Emily McKay
–review by Bronto Incognito
Carter may have just beaten the crap out of me, he may have shot me in the back, but he’d bought me Dr. Pepper. I know it was effed up, but somehow, it balanced out.
*Side note: that’s how you know this girl’s from Texas….
Book-a-likes: Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, The Big Empty: Paradise City by J.B. Stephens, and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
So if you go by my Goodreads page it looks like it took me much longer to finish this book than it actually did. Goodreads does not take into account the month where I misplaced the book, or the weeks of pregnancy nausea that prohibited me from reading….well, anything. But! I’m done now and I want to find the next one!
Basic setup: We are told this story from 3 perspectives: Lily, her autistic sister Mel, and Carter. Lily and Mel have been sent to a Farm, just like most teens across the US. About 6 month ago some kind of outbreak happened turning people into…nope, not zombies, but some form of mutated vampiric creature they call Ticks. The virus is supposed to affect teens more than adults, so teens are sent to Farms for their “safety” where they’re (more-or-less) taken care of as long as they donate blood once a week to help keep the Ticks outside the fences at bay. Lily’s making plans to get her and her sister off the Farm and all the way to Canada before their 18th birthday next week when they’ll disappear just like all the other 18 yr olds have.
Enter Carter, Lily’s bad-boy crush from the Before, who mysteriously ended up on her Farm just a few days before her planned escape. Fresh from 2 yrs at military school, he’s got the skills that could help the girls escape and survive, but Lily knows better than to trust Carter. He always seems to have ulterior motives.
So I like that this book is basically a zombie-apocalypse story, except really it’s a vampire-apocalypse story. The Ticks are good, scary monsters that work in packs to survive. Mel’s chapters are sparse, but interesting. She definitely knows more of what’s going on than anyone gives her credit for, but in her mixed-up music-minded autism, it hard for the reader to even quite know what it is she knows. Lily’s tough and jaded–she’ll do whatever it takes to save her sister. And Carter is sweet-but-tough. I like that they gave him some military training so that someone in this survival group is well-trained.
The one thing that I wish would have been hinted at in the blurb (and that I think might alter your expectations going into the book)–Carter does want Lily for romantic reasons, but also because he thinks she might have the power to affect the outcome of the Rebellion’s fight against the Ticks. I won’t tell you what power he thinks she has, but knowing that powers are a thing in this world (only as of book 1 there’s really just that one) definitely changes how you read it.
Okay, spoiler over. All of the characters were well-rounded and believable. It was nice having someone in a book worry about how the apocalypse might have affected the DFW area for once. Nice twist there at the end (also, a nice creepy crazy-guy scene that reminds me of the big, fat Collector guy in Charlie Higson’s The Fear). Really want to read the rest of the series, though the next cover is not as good as this one Oh well.
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