Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Book Review: Red Hill by Jamie McGuire

For Scarlet, raising her two daughters alone makes fighting for tomorrow an everyday battle. Nathan has a wife, but can’t remember what it’s like to be in love; only his young daughter Zoe makes coming home worthwhile. Miranda’s biggest concern is whether her new VW Bug is big enough to carry her sister and their boyfriends on a weekend escape from college finals.

When reports of a widespread, deadly “outbreak” begin to surface, these ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances and suddenly their fates are intertwined. Recognizing they can’t outrun the danger, Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda desperately seek shelter at the same secluded ranch, Red Hill. Emotions run high while old and new relationships are tested in the face of a terrifying enemy—an enemy who no longer remembers what it’s like to be human.

Set against the backdrop of a brilliantly realized apocalyptic world, love somehow finds a way to survive. But what happens when the one you’d die for becomes the one who could destroy you?

My Review: 
As the zombie outbreak hits the US, Scarlet leaves the hospital to collect her daughters who are with her ex husband in another town and take them to the house that she cleans part time for Dr Hayes at Red Hill. Joey has taken his dying girlfriend Dana to hospital, hoping that there might yet be a chance for her. Nathan is trying to rescue his autistic daughter Zoe just as his wife decides to leave him. Miranda, Ashley and their boyfriends flee to their father's home at Red Hill. Their paths will take them through the same towns, dangerous people and swarms of deadly zombies as they try to reach safety. Who will survive the journey?

I love zombies. I don't quite know what it is about them but I never get tired of good zombie books and this one was excellent. I admit that when I read the blurb, the mention of love and romance almost put me off reading it because I'm not a fan of that in apocalypse books so it says a lot about the author's writing that I actually found that these emotional storylines added to this zombie story. It doesn't happen often for me but I loved the mixture of emotional turmoil and zombie tension in this story so don't be put off if romance isn't your thing. There is plenty of zombie fun to be had!

The first thing I loved was the zombie story. It doesn't go in depth about how it starts but that is not really needed. We instead follow a few characters as they find the zombies suddenly appearing in their lives and their instincts all tell them to run. It is all about these characters as they try to reach the presumed safety of Red Hill where there are supplies, and a defendable place to ride out the epidemic. The problem is the lack of routes to Red Hill, meaning their journey takes them through or near some very populated areas, exposing them to the full dangers of multiple zombies as well as criminal civilians. It's just what you want to read about if you love the zombie genre.

I liked the range of characters in the book. Scarlet has a single purpose and that is to rescue her daughters Jenna and Halle. Being seperated from them at a time of crisis clouds her judgement and she makes a few very risky decisions when she finds her husband's town has been quarantined because an important politician is there and nobody can get in or out. She is determined to do anything it takes to save her girls even if it means risking herself and her friends. Nathan is a caring father to his autistic daughter and is trying to keep life as normal for her as he can while trying to survive the zombies and his wife leaving him. I really liked him. His brother-in-law Skeeter and pregnant wife Jill live in Fairview and are preppers-exactly the kind of people you want to link up with in the zombie apocalypse. Skeeter was certainly my favourite character.

I had mixed views on the Hayes girls at first. Miranda was the smarter girl and her previously happy relationship with Bryce suddenly comes under threat in their new survival situation when another man shows interest in her. Her sister Ashley comes across as a bit of a whiny airhead when we first meet her and you can't help but wonder why a great guy like Cooper is interested in her. But that selfish side of her soon starts to vanish when she realises that she needs to start working with the others for their combined safety. In the end I actually liked Ashley more than Miranda.

The way the stories all connect was really well done. Every one of our characters chooses to drive through the main street of Fairview, their stories briefly intersecting in a very clever way. That whole plotline was so full of tension and fear for the characters that I was totally hooked. That town was not the place you wanted to be as events unfolded. There was some really good zombie action here as well as the tense stuff and I very much liked that. The scenes involving the church were pretty nerve jangling. You have no idea what is coming next or who is going to be in grave danger and that is something I enjoy about zombie fiction.

There are quite a few unexpected things happening in the book which for me added a lot of emotion and entertainment. I liked the way the story was being told, with the POV changing between Scarlet, Nathan and Miranda. It allowed the reader to be right there in each situation with each character or group as they all tried to find Red Hill. I very much liked the plot and the human angle. Overall it was entertaining and I'm pleased that I gave it a try.

After reading this, I suggest you read the follow up novella which is a companion read to this one. 

Read December 2015.
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