Wow, what a book to start the year. The novel starts sort of mysteriously and I don’t want to spoil the mystery (though it’s been out a while now so you may know the mystery anyway–I think I knew before I bought the book, but I didn’t read it right away so I had forgotten by the time I picked it up again). I will say it’s a post-apocalyptic novel–you get that within the first three pages, so that’s not a spoiler. Also there are monsters and mad scientists and military grunts and a road adventure, and it all comes together into a pretty compelling narrative with great characters, some of whom start out a bit then but really develop into more three-dimensional people as the story goes along.
I like how the mystery unfolds, so I don’t want to say too much, so here are just a few not-too-spoilery details. The protagonist is 10-year old named Melanie. She lives in a cell and is rolled down the hall to a classroom by soldier dudes. She and her classmates are special in some way, but she is particularly special. She’s enthralled with stories of the bygone world, particularly Greek mythology (as i was at the same age) so that was another fun angle in the story. Then one day, her world changes forever and she learns more about how special she really is and what the world outside is really like….
Even though I can’t go into many details, I will say this is not JUST a horror/post-apocalyptic novel. It’s more like literary fiction with a horror flavor; I read it in a lovely trade paperback, and it makes you think a little more deeply about humanity, scientific ethics, and education. For all that brain engagement, though, it doesn’t lack for heart; there’s a lot about love and empathy here, too. I wouldn’t give this book five stars, as it’s not the kind of book I would read over again, but it was a fascinating read and I recommend it to anyone who likes a little thoughtfulness with their thrills.