Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Until We End (review)

4/5 stars

I'm always pleasantly surprised when I read a dystopian/post-apocalyptic type book that's still good. It's a genre that feels full and it's been so well-done in some series, that it's hard to compete with what has come before.  Until We End (Goodreads | Amazon) is a solidly good book.  I had one major problem with it (and I feel like a broken record because once again my problem was the romantic relationship) but that does not detract from most of the book.

Seventeen-year-old Cora was raised by her father to be a survivor.  He was one of those crazies, stockpiling food, building a self-sustaining greenhouse, keeping a cabinet full of guns, that the neighbors gossiped about.  Until the world really did end, a highly contagious virus sweeping the country, and the neighbors all died.  Six months have passed since Cora's father disappeared, leaving her alone taking care of her eight-year-old brother.

The book begins with a drought forcing Cora to leave the safe confines of her home, venturing to the local spring in an attempt to keep their greenhouse functioning.  At the spring, she is ambushed by an army-deserter named Brooks who carjacks her at gun-point and forces her to take him back to her house to claim her stash of food.  But when Cora returns to her house it's been ransacked and her brother Coby is gone.

Family relationships are typically the best drivers of dystopian/post-apocalyptic books.  That's a connection that's solid and strong, something worth tearing the world apart for.  Like Katniss with Prim, Cora's devotion to her brother is what forces the plot forward in this book.  I believe in her relationship with Coby. I believe that she wants to save him, protect him and give him what childhood she can salvage.

I also like that Cora's survival makes sense.  Cora was literally raised from her childhood to deal with this exact situation.  Even though she doesn't always handle it well (who would?), she has the skill-set to survive.  She's not just lucky. She's trained.   Too often books are dependent upon coincidences to cobble together a plot that makes sense.  But this book actually calls out coincidences and the main characters question them.

As I already said, I didn't believe in the romantic relationship that developed in this book.  I could give you a whole list of reasons (how it started, who the main characters were before the apocalypse, etc) but I'll let you be your own judge of that.  Overall this book is still worth reading, well-plotted, compulsively readable with twists that you won't see coming.

I received an advance reading e-book in exchange for an honest review. 

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