*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*
This book was well-written enough, I can see why other people like it, but it didn’t quite work for me. It was enjoyable, but nothing in it really left an impression on me, and it had a bunch of small-ish problems that built up.
Things I Liked:
– The writing was fine.
– Six was an intriguing character, especially when he was first introduced. He was mute, so you didn’t really know anything about him, he was covered in scars, and he was kind of feral but still sweet and innocent.
– I can see people liking the main characters because they were tough and kept fighting even when things were awful.
– The relationship between Wren and her Papa was touching.
– There was some complexity in the characters regarding the darkness in them.
– I had issues with some specific things in the plot, but overall it wasn’t bad.
– There were a few thought-provoking moments.
Things I Disliked:
– Dani made frustrating decisions sometimes (e.g. she argued about staying with her brother when first brought to the place even though she saw firsthand that anyone who misbehaved at all was killed).
– I found the sexual scenes uncomfortable (e.g. Wren just staring at Six’s penis, him showing up in the bathroom to watch her shower and then washing her). Even when normal things were happening, it still sounded kind of dub-con at times and… old-fashioned? But I suppose Wren’s strange word choices and innocence and whatnot made some sense given her life.
– The bad guys were too outrageously evil. They tortured, they experimented on, they killed, they raped—they did these things to children even—all without a second thought. It wasn’t just one or two men, it was pretty much all of them at the compound where Dani was taken. Even the non-evil things were a little too extreme seemingly just for the sake of being extreme (e.g. the horribly painful inoculation thing that had to be injected into your armpits and the bottoms of your feet). I love dark books, but it felt over-the-top forced, and the book lost some believability for me because of it.
– I also had believability issues with something in the second half. *SPOILER* I couldn’t deal with Wren not recognizing Six at first. It was so painfully far beyond obvious that it was him. *END SPOILER* But luckily that was fairly short-lived and didn’t actually impact the plot.
– Dani’s hallucination seemed to know things that she didn’t (factual things, like when a truck would leave, which direction she was supposed to be walking).
– Around 50%, the book jumped forward in time eight years. After that jump though, I felt like the story dragged some.
Other Things You Should Know:
– This book is very dark and graphic. Trigger Warning: *SPOILER* On-screen rape, pregnancy from rape, miscarriage, self harm (cutting), implied suicide attempts, sexual assault, extreme violence, gruesome torture of and experimentation on non-POV characters. *END SPOILER*
– As for the ending, *SPOILER* it wasn’t a perfect “everyone survives and the world is saved” ending, but it was happy/hopeful enough to be satisfying for most readers, I think. *END SPOILER*
– Both Wren and Six seemed to have PTSD or some mental illness, but that’s not stated, that’s just my best guess. But they both also said they heard voices in their heads telling them to do bad things, and Wren hallucinated a specific recurring person, which sounds like schizophrenia, except it didn’t seem like either of them actually had schizophrenia (though I could be wrong). Is that a thing? Can trauma/PTSD cause you to hallucinate/hear voices like that?
– I classified the book as having zombies, but technically they’re just people with a virus that makes them cannibals and reverts them to a reptile brain state of survival.
Like I said, the book just wasn’t for me. But if you enjoy the good things in the book more than I did, it might outweigh the negatives. Or you might not have the same issues I did. But overall, this was a post-apoc with a lot of evil and darkness, a little bit of hope, and a romance between two broken characters.
Anyone who likes very dark books, post-apoc, hardened/broken characters, outrageously evil bad buys, and romance.