Well, this was a dark book! I guess it has been a couple of years since I have read a post apocalyptic tale. Not usually my thing, me being the glitter unicorns dancing in the daisy-filled meadows type, but every once in a while I have the urge to try another one, maybe because things being are so politically apocalyptic these days.
This is the world of the berserkers ….. people with some kind of ingredient in their blood that makes them go, well, berserk. Usually they are set off by a traumatic event, or something. Then they lose their minds and rip apart everything and everyONE in their paths, for about 20 minutes, or so, then recover. But every time they have an episode, they get stronger, and lose a little tiny piece of their mind permanently, until eventually they look like The Hulk with a mind of a two year old.
(You know, it all seemed so much more plausible when I read it, than now, trying to explain it to you. That is the trouble with apocalypse stories …. they don’t bear thinking about too much.)
Our protagonists, two young sisters, are in a car with their drunken father in the middle of a blizzard. The car slides off the road, and is stuck. The mother races after them, trying to free the girls, and OMG, turns into a berserker. Who knew she had berserker blood! She is trying to pull off the car doors and smash the windshield to get at the occupants to destroy them, the father takes out a gun he conveniently had in the car, and forces himself to shoot his wife to save his kids.
He is jailed for murder, and although he could have gotten off with the berserker defense, but he does not want to. He wants to be punished for his role in the event, first being a professional drunk and then driving off in a snowstorm with his kids in the car. He gives the girls to his brother in the midwest to raise while he is in prison.
But while he is serving his time, the world gets destroyed. More and more people are getting more and more crazy, people stop going to work, utilities fail, and eventually some nut cases get a hold of some nukes and take out a lot of the biggest cities on the planet. The world has become dangerous and primitive.
Flash forward to the girls as 16 years old and 11 years old. The brother has died of something, I forget what, and the girls are now in the care of his best friend and his sons and friends. (Where are all the women? Hmmm.) Anyway, the oldest girl and the younger son are having it on, she has a berserker episode and kills him, and OMG where did she get the berserker blood?
Flash laterally to the dad in prison, doing all kinds of research on the berserker phenomenon. He comes to a startling discovery/conclusion: it seems that all of the clients of one fertility doctor have produced children with berserker blood. So his wife’s parents, being infertile, went to this doctor, and so did he and his wife. So now he has a mission that when he gets out of prison, he is going to track down that doctor and kill him.
So there is a lot more to this story, and lawsy, lawsy, it is only the first of a trilogy. There are baddies, and villains, and innocents, and those who have lost whatever innocence they had, and a lot of discussion of how to survive in a post apocalyptic world. Everyone starts off by scavenging. I always want to know what everyone is going to do after they clean out the Walmarts and Coscos, and have shot and eaten all the animals. Well, the answer is part of this story.
Good world building, some really likable characters, and the nice touch of climate change, what with it snowing in July.
But it was a cliff hanger. Any of you who have been reading my blog for a while know my feelings about cliff hangers. Betrayed and scammed. That’s my feelings. This one could have easily stood alone. Here’s what happened. The two girls are captured by baddies who will try to take their blood for berserker infusions. But the father figure has gone to the city-like enclave to figure a way to save them. Of course, they escape, and find the father figure with an arrow in his chest but alive, so they take him with them on their escape. He barely survives the trip to their old homestead, which has been taken over by a friendly tech-savvy group, there is a tense night when the group rallies round to try to dislodge the arrow, and whew! are ultimately successful. It could have …. should have….. ended there. But no, it has to drag on with the reveal that the baddies have tracked them from the enclave to the farmhouse, and…..
See what I mean? It could have ended leaving the reader wanting more, wanting to know now what happens in the story. But that cliff hanger was just too heavy handed. It does not make you want to buy the next volume, because you know that will also end in a cliff hanger forcing you to buy yet another book in the series.
Well, I am off to throw out my microwave. Don’t want it spying on me. Good thing I don’t have a smart phone. I am not smart enough for a smart phone, but turns out that is probably just as well. I feel like I am living in a George Orwell novel.