Are you ready for my round of excuses? Well, I was out of the country for almost a month, and then I got the chickenpox...
Science is cruising along, forever searching for the equivalent of the fountain of youth. Someone thinks they've found it... but is it what they think it is? Meanwhile, a young girl named Amy is abandoned to a group of nuns, and then kidnapped by the government. She becomes part of the experiments and while the world falls to ruins around her, she remains... Amy. And something a little bit more.
Almost a hundred years later, the story takes up with the small community of survivors who live inside a walled city with electric lights that will eventually shut off for good. And once that happens, no one will be able to stop the "smokes" from getting in and killing everyone.
The smokes are what happened when they tried spreading their fountain of youth. They got youth all right, but also a lot more. Superhuman abilities and a dose of insanity, and insatiable thirst and hunger for blood...
The little community's fragile peace is disturbed when Peter Jaxon runs into a Walker outside of the wall, a young girl who cannot speak with her mouth but somehow communicates exactly what she needs to say. No one knows where she came from, but it doesn't take Michael long to find the chip in her neck, put their years ago by the military. And it doesn't take him much longer to find a signal being sent out for her, asking for her return.
As the little community crumbles and the infected breach the walls, Peter leaves with a small crew to find the source of the signal, and, just maybe, other survivors.
This book took me over four months to read. That is a freaking long time. Geez. Admittedly, part of the problem was just crazy life stuff, but still. I mean, thinking about all the other things that have happened in the last four months, it's ridiculous to think that I've been reading the same book the whole freaking time.
Anyway. All that said, it makes it rather remarkable that I didn't just give up on the stupid thing. For some reason, I just kept on reading, kept re-checking it out at the library.
The beginning really drew me in, but the sudden drastic setting change really disoriented me, and for a long time I was really irritated about it. It took me a very long time to warm up to the new characters in the new setting. And once I had started to like them, Justin Cronin goes off and kills one of them and then has the other go through such a drastic character growth that he's not even the same character anymore. I'm still a little pissed off about that.
Two of the characters, Peter and Sara, really do have nice character growth. Peter was just "meh" in the beginning, but by the end he was awesome. Sara was "meeeeeeeh" and then she was "DON'T DIE, SARA." Theo and Maus, however, are just dull the whole way through.
The ending, OH THE ENDING. It was so sharp, so sudden, so unexpected, so... AAAUGH. It's amazing. I had to reread it five times to make sure I'd understood it correctly. Geez. Man. Wow. Golly what an ending. Major points for that one.
Justin Cronin has a very insensitive writing style. It's rather dry and there's not a whole lot of emotion in his characters (other than the occasional maniacal rage). It's not like I want an epic love story or anything, but something might be nice. Instead, you've got nothing. And then when he does put a bit of emotion in, it feels weird and...alien. Maybe he was just trying to sum up the world he created, but I don't really like it.
All in all it's... weird. The story and characters and writing is all just... weird. And long. Man. I would honestly only recommend this book to people who specifically like ridiculously long books. I don't think anyone else could get through it.
I also discovered that there's a sequel, and I'm not sure if I want to put my time and strength into that...
You might like this if you: love ridiculously long novels; like horror vampire stories; like apocalyptic stories; don't much care about emotion (except for maniacal rage); or if you're dreaming about a mean fat woman and have an imaginary friend named Babcock.