After a terrible virus ravages the planet, Carly Daniels, one of the few survivors, hides in her apartment in Juneau trying to survive the best she can with only occasional forays to gather food. With her is Sam, a wolf puppy she found starving on the streets. He becomes her companion and a reason to continue when giving up sometimes seems like the more attractive option. Still dazed with shock and grief, she hopes for the world to go back to normal soon. She is discovered by Justin, an ex-soldier who is intent on making his way to Florida before the winter sets in. Justin coaxes her out of her hiding place and convinces her to join him on his journey, because a warmer climate will be their best chance against the extremes of Mother Nature.[...]
Not only does Lissa Bryan tell a convincing end of the world as we know it story, but also a wonderfully emotional romance.
Meet Carly Daniels, 22, living in Juneau, Alaska, on her own, one of the very few survivors of a pandemic that wiped out most of the world's population. There is no electricity, no food, no police, no order, and nobody to help her make it from day to day. Her parents have succumbed to the disease, and Carly is all alone, with only her little puppy, Sam, for company.
It is Sam and his need for food that prompts Carly to make the trip to the nearby grocery store again, to scavenge for dog food and anything else she might still find. If only it weren't for Biker Dude who's been standing outside of her apartment building for the last few days.
Biker Dude turns out to be Justin, 34, a fellow survivor. He, with a bit of 'tricksy hobbit' attitude, convinces Carly that their best bet for survival is to make the long trip south, through Canada, into the US and eventually to Florida, where the climate is better for farming. Justin is ex-Special Ops, and while he already has quite a few survival skills, Carly learns to stand her own along the way.
It can be really tricky to merge a post-apocalyptic plot with a generous dose of romance. As the feelings between Justin and Carly grow, there are a couple of missteps and hurt feelings, but once they give in to the attraction, they both become stronger because of it.
The characterizations were extremely well done. There is growth for both main characters throughout the novel, and it is a credit to the author that the growth never felt forced or artificial. When Carly's skills are challenged, she finds the strength she needs to push through the difficulties, and Justin finds that place he's always longed for.
Hardship is inevitable in the situation they find themselves in, but neither of them ever considers giving up. The dystopian aspects of this novel are both realistic and outright scary. They certainly made me think - could I survive this kind of scenario? How far would I go to ensure the survival of my family? Would I kill, steal, pillage and harden my heart against the plight of others, to keep my own family alive?
The author also inserted a bit of mystery - why did some people survive the pandemic without ever getting sick? What makes them different? There isn't an answer (yet), but I hope the sequel (yes??) will introduce more of that element.
I also enjoyed the supporting cast of characters. Each of them served a purpose, whether to move the plot along, or to make a specific point, or to introduce the elements of the sequel (yes???) that I'm hoping and already salivating for.
This novel is well researched, well executed and well-rounded, and I wasn't able to put it down for any length of time. A great book transports you to the world it describes and hooks you from the start - this one definitely fit that description.
Dear Lissa Bryan, please write the sequel!
If you like dystopian/post-apocalyptic kinds of stories with a good dose of romance, this is the book for you. Please give it a shot.
I received a free copy of the ARC directly from the publisher. A positive review was not promised, but in this case well deserved.
Thank you for reading! Until next time,
Buy links are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement by this blog.