“Forget the old days. Forget Summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that does not help you survive in the endless white wilderness beyond the edges of a fallen world.”
Society has collapsed due to nuclear war and a worldwide killer virus which has left very few survivors. Sixteen year old Lynn McBride and her family move to the harsh Canadian Yukon in the early days of the war in order to survive. Aside from Lynn’s mother, father, brother, Uncle Jeryl and Sam a young man whose late father was friends with Jeryl, the only other person nearby is Conrad. A terrible, thieving man who only has his interests in mind and will never be the kind of person you’d want as your neighbor at the end of the world. While Lynn’s family is largely unaffected by the virus since living in the wilderness, Lynn’s father passes away (not a spoiler this happens before the book even begins) from the virus. Lynn too catches it, but miraculously survives. Her brother and mother luckily never fall ill. Lynn, now 23 years old is thinking about venturing off on her own when a mysterious man appears with his dog. Lynn’s mother and Uncle Jeryl are hesitant to let Jax into their home, but when they realize he is hurt and badly in need of their care they cautiously open their home to him. Jax has secrets which only begin to be revealed when a group of men show up at the cabin under the guise of a traveling general store. When one of them men points out the tattoo on Jax’s arm, Jax erupts into a fast moving warrior able to fight off and murder all the men by himself. This begins the action adventure portion of the book that I did enjoy. We find out more facts about what society has been up to in the years since Lynn’s family went off the grid, and we learn more about Jax. As the story progresses, we realize that this virus that has been ravaging the world may be man-made, and that Lynn, Jax and her family may have more to do with it then meets the eye. Old memories of her father’s mysterious work in the basement and her miraculous recovery from the virus come back into play and the story does get interesting. Of course, the predictable love story blooms between Jax and Lynn even though she literally tells him “I am not going to have sex with you.” That made me laugh at loud when I read it. It seemed like a cheesy line at the time, but it grew on me as their relationship developed.
I gave this book two stars because while I enjoyed parts of the story, on the whole I sped through it to get to the end. The premise sounded great and probably based on my review you may think, “That doesn’t sound bad!” Part of my reasoning is that the writing seemed more YA than adult fiction. Some of you may really enjoy it more because of that, but I am not a fan of YA Fiction except in rare circumstances. I haven’t seen this book listed in that category, so it threw me off while reading it as I was expecting a more adult feel. I’m not sure if the author did that intentionally, but maybe this should be marketed as YA if that’s the case. He may find that the audience is more receptive in that genre. The main character Lynn is in her early twenties but reads much younger. Her inner dialogue is sexually charged (not usually a problem for me) and it feels weird reading it because I didn’t see her as an adult. I would chalk her naiveté up to living in the Yokon since the age of 16, but you would think that kind of life would inspire a type of maturity in order to survive. Instead, she makes poor decisions left and right and puts herself into situations where her life is at risk. She seems very bored and tired of her isolation so that could also be a factor in her poor decision making. Maybe skip this one? Or read it and let me know your thoughts.
Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for this book in exchange for an honest review.