Shannon delivers a mystery-thriller that’s gory and scary but suitable for teens, focused at heart on two individuals experiencing––for all they know––the end of everything. Shannon presents the story in two timelines, allowing readers to track Grace’s character before and after the monsters appear. The main characters feel well-thought out and full, and the dialogue is often strong. However, the side characters, usually villains, lack depth and tend to end up dead quickly.
The choice to call the zombie-like humans “savages”––which Grace notes is not “politically correct” before concluding “there is no other way to describe them”––will prove unacceptable to some readers and demonstrates a missed opportunity to imagine something more fresh. Those creatures ultimately don’t prove crucial to the overall plot, which turns instead on secret military experiments, the conscience of Grace’s own father, and a hopeful revelation when past and present twine together. But what lingers are the scenes of wilderness and apocalypse survival, the relationship with Nick, and the terror of not knowing how bad it all will get.
Takeaway: A YA apocalypse with monsters, romance, military secrets, and the horror and adventure of surviving.
Great for fans of: P. A. Glaspy’s When the Power is Gone, Emma H. Frost’s Into the Dark.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B