I'm not usually one for stories that have anything to do with an apocalypse or its aftermath. They're too disturbing, too hopeless, and very often so far-fetched that they border on ridiculous. In fact, I'm not even sure why I decided to read this one. But there was just something about it...
Kat is alone in an ugly world. An unstoppable plague has swept the earth, and for the few who are left, it's every man for himself. What makes this story different is that the plague is not natural, not man-made, and not something the human race could possibly have prepared for. It's origins are in magic, dark creatures who roam the countryside with a deadly touch. What was once simply lore is now a bleak reality, and as it becomes obvious that there's no stopping its spread, the government is bombing cities in a futile effort to contain it.
Kat is portrayed beautifully. Having once lived a rather luxurious life, survival is now her only goal, and while she misses her Starbucks, she doesn't waste her time grieving material losses. When the plague took her father, and her mother was only a day or two from death's door, Kat struck out on her own at her mother's urging, determined to get to Washington. That was where she hoped to find an uncle living off the grid and with the means to take her in.
Along the way, she runs into the usual obstacles, other people with their own survival agenda, a government turned against its own people, and of course the constant threat of being found by a Pesta -- the plague bringers. She doesn't luck into any gigantic stores of food, a perfect cabin in the middle of nowhere, or some post-apocalyptic Utopia that strips her of all her worries. But she does come across a boy who, like her, is alone and unprepared for their grim reality.
Dylan is undeniably handsome and altogether decent in a world that is anything but. She tries to turn her back on him, but he persists, convincing her that traveling together is best for them both, and off they start toward Washington. Along with a dog and whatever vehicle they can hotwire, they head north.
The relationship between Kat and Dylan is a subtle climb. They start as unfortunate strangers, begin to depend on each other, and eventually form a very necessary friendship. They fumble their way through decisions and moments of danger, and along with their stray dog Blue, they keep putting one foot in front of the other. The realistic way in which they're portrayed, a little lost yet determined, is something I rarely see in books of this genre. Of course the line between friends and more begins to blur, but even as they discover their feelings and begin to give in to each other, this is not a romance. It's a tale of survival of two people who rather fortunately just might be right for each other.
I guess the story had to end at some point, but I was hoping against hope that it wouldn't, even when I saw I had only a few pages left. It pulled me in, made me believe in the characters, and had me staying up all night just to read what would happen next. But while I hated the realization that I'd read the very last word of the book, the ending gave me some hope that there might be a sequel. If not, someone had better fanfic it! [Edit: The author let me know there will be a sequel. Yay!!!]
Absolutely brilliant. Buy it ... borrow it ... hell, just get your hands on it and read! It's a great story with believable characters and an incredible way of drawing you in from the very beginning. It doesn't shy away from the ugliness that is every man for himself, but it doesn't hit you over the head with unpalatable violence and gratuitous gore. It is by far one of the best New Adult books I've read in years. If you don't love it... Nope, you're gonna love it.