Wow, my second triple review! I was shocked when I found the first three, but I probably should be as shocked that I have these because world-ending plagues are kind of my jam. 
Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Published by Del Rey Books on July 2, 2019
Pages: 800
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley
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A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world's last hope. In the tradition of The Stand and Station Eleven comes a gripping saga that weaves an epic tapestry of humanity into an astonishing tale of survival.

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows.

But Shana and are sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them–the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart–or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.

Not only did I read this whole 800 page book in a pretty reasonable amount of time, I enjoyed every minute. And if you take nothing else away from  my review, take away that. It seems intimidating when you first begin; I was certainly intimidated. But I shouldn’t have been. It was engaging, entertaining, and I never once felt it drag.

We start out in a quaint Pennsylvania town (not unlike my own, if we’re being honest- the beginning is set not far from my area) with a young woman who has no idea that she’s quite literally going to stumble upon the end of the world when she finds her younger sister in a trace-like state. The book begins with Shana and her sister, and they feel like the epicenter throughout. But we also experience several other very key players’ points of view as the book goes along. I didn’t know that I would care for or about them when I first read their chapters, but shortly knew I had been wrong. Each character was incredibly well developed, and each had a role to play in the greater story. No one is a throwaway, so fret not.

The plot itself is incredibly gripping. The author delves into a lot of big issues that would likely become extra relevant in the event of an actual plague. People in crisis are often unsure of what to do and who to turn to, and this both brings out the best and worst in people. The author explores this in several arenas: a grab for political power (in a series of individuals who are not unlike those we’re witnessing in real-time); religion being used as a manipulation tactic; fame being used to influence.

Of course as the story goes on, there’s a ton of gray morality and thought provoking questions presented. What would you do in some of the characters’ shoes? Is it okay to be selfish or selfless at the end of days? And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg as the secrets unfurl. There were admittedly a few places that the story could have been cut down just a bit, but as a whole it was incredibly well-paced and well-thought out and I enjoyed it wholly.

Bottom Line: This epic novel explores who people can and will become when their backs are against the wall, when there’s nothing left to lose. It’s honest and realistic, and therefore utterly terrifying.

 


Contagion by Teri Terry
Series: Dark Matter #1
Published by Charlesbridge Teen on July 9, 2019
Pages: 416
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley
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The first book in the spine-tingling Dark Matter trilogy about the frightening effects of a biological experiment gone wrong.

An epidemic is sweeping the country. It spreads fast, mercilessly. Everyone will be infected. . . . It is only a matter of time. You are now under quarantine.

Young teen Callie might have been one of the first to survive the disease, but unfortunately she didn't survive the so-called treatment. She was kidnapped and experimented upon at a secret lab, one that works with antimatter. When she breaks free of her prison, she unleashes a wave of destruction. Meanwhile her older brother Kai is looking for her, along with his smart new friend Shay, who was the last to see Callie alive.

Amid the chaos of the spreading epidemic, the teens must find the source of disease. Could Callie have been part of an experiment in biological warfare? Who is behind the research? And more importantly, is there a cure?

Contagion started off a bit confusing for me. To be fair, the formatting of the eARC didn’t help, but I also can’t help that I was a bit lost. But as the story picked up, I became more invested. Shay was a decent MC, though not particularly memorable. Callie was certainly more sympathetic, but also a bit less likable- not that I faulted her for it necessarily (talk about being dealt a crappy hand!) but alas. Basically, the gist of the story is that our characters are travelling around their Scotland hometowns to (at first) try to find Callie, and then to try to figure out what exactly the deal is with the plague.

I love plagues, and by “love” I don’t mean I wish to obtain one. I love reading about them, because of the lengths characters will go to during them. True colors always come out when the stakes are highest, and that is no exception here. There’s a lot of action, and I was never bored.

I was a little underwhelmed with a few of the twists, however. I found them to be a bit (okay fine, maybe more than a bit) predictable. And because of that, some of the time our characters took to reach said twists was a little too much, since the reader can generally parse what will happen. And yes, I’d have also liked to have more connection with the main characters. That said, I was invested enough to want to read the second book, because there are a lot of unanswered questions that I really need answers to!

Bottom Line: Pretty typical plague fare, but entertaining enough to keep me interested in continuing the series!


The Girl in Red by Christina Henry
Published by Berkley on June 18, 2019
Pages: 304
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley
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From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a postapocalyptic take on the perennial classic "Little Red Riding Hood"...about a woman who isn't as defenseless as she seems.

It's not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn't look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.

There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there's something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined.

Red doesn't like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn't about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods....

Truly, there is a lot of hype surrounding this book. I saw it on several blogger friends’ sites before I went ahead and decided I needed to read it too. And trust me, the hype is earned. This is one of the most brutally realistic-feeling apocalyptic novels I have ever read, and I have read quite a few! It flashes back and forth between Red’s current situation, and how she got to the point where we begin the story. This decision by the author is extra great, because you really can see how and why Red transforms as she does since the plague first began.

It’s an awful, dismal world that Red now finds herself in. Admittedly, those are my favorites to read about. Possibly because it makes ours feel like less of a dumpster fire? Though the thing that makes the world in this book so realistic is that it feels like it comes directly from said current dumpster fire. The government is basically awful and no one particularly wants to go to their “quarantine camps”. People are legitimately killing survivors over their race, which… yep, I can see it happening here too. Red has a prosthetic leg, which of course makes people doubt her (which they really, really should not). More than that, she is a woman who is at times alone in the woods. And nothing has changed for women walking alone, either.

Red is very smart but she’s not perfect, and that’s the way I like my heroines. She’s got flaws and she recognizes them and tries her best to overcome them in order to survive. You can see how hard she tries to survive- nothing falls into her lap, she works at it every minute of every day. It’s exhausting, and the author does an incredible job of showing just how exhausting. How tired Red is of constantly being on alert, how desperately she misses the comforts of “before”.  To me, that realism is the absolute cherry on the top of this already engaging and exciting book.

Bottom Line: I genuinely could see the apocalypse plague mirroring this book, which is both terrifying and impressive. The author does a tremendous job of making us love and care about Red, while being immersed in a world that will straight up horrify you.

If you had to guess, how do you think the world would end? Plague? Asteroid? Flood? Locusts? Zombies? And would YOU make it out of the plague alive?

Posted June 27, 2019 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Dual, Review, Triple / 9 Comments


9 responses to “Triple Review: Apocalypse Plagues Cometh

  1. I would not make it out of a plague alive. I’m too squishy for the apocalypse. I’ve seen The Girl In Red on a bunch of blogs, but this is the first review I’ve read. I’m glad it lived up to the hype.

  2. I’ve heard fantastic things about Girl in Red. It’s on my TBR list! The other books look interesting as well. I love reading books that explore different ways the world may go. These books have so much to offer when it comes to exploring what it means to be human. While I love ones that are fantastical in nature (since fantasy is my first book love), I believe the ones that explore how humans themselves bring about the world’s end have more truth to them since humans have already done so much to our environment (and our persons).

  3. You had me at apocalypse. <3 Wanderers sounds sooo good. I'm already on a horribly long wait list for it when it's released. I love morally gray characters/situations, and I'm looking forward to exploring it! The Girl in Red is also on my TBR. I've heard so much hype about it, but I'm glad to see that it's well deserved! Your review makes it sound so good, and now I just can't wait till I can get my hands on it. :3

  4. I would let the zombies eat me. I can’t live like that. But, I am glad to see this was a rather fabulous group of books for you. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad (are you singing it now?).

  5. Kel

    I don’t read much horror or apocalypse these days, but it’s funny because a coworker just said today how I’d do better than all of them in the apocalypse because my super sensitive nose would sniff out food and stuff, lol. And I’m going to guess a mix of fire and plague.

  6. I don’t tend to read plaguelike/ apocalyptic books because I don’t think I’d fare very well in such a setting. But I’ve been seeing SO MUCH hype for The Girl in Red, and I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And I also now really want to read Wanderers despite it being 800 pages. Because it was compared to Station Eleven and I can totally see why from the synopsis! And I love Station Eleven enough to read a book that sounds similar even if it’s a brick!

  7. Beth W

    Ohhh these looks awesome! I hadn’t heard of The Girl in Red, but now I’m stoked to read it. I think, just like you, I like the post-apoc for the reminder that things may be headed toward collapse, but we aren’t there yet.

    Honestly, I think the end of our civilization will be a combination of plague and war (possibly bioterrorism?), and it’ll be one of those things that’s so sudden we don’t even get to try and stop it or prepare for it. Which is fine, because I’m reasonably certain I’ll be one of the first to die (I mean, if it was a book the better irony would be me living, given my health issues, but in reality I wouldn’t survive much hardship). And honestly, I’ll take that over zombies (being eaten alive is, truly, one of my greatest fears….also, I don’t enjoy running).

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