Monday, February 04, 2013

My Dirty Little (Reading) Secret—Brace Yourself!

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"We don't have to be monsters.  We still get to choose" (17).  

As much as I love dystopian novels, I've been a little reluctant to venture into the grittier side of the genre.  I'm just wimpy that way.  Because while I enjoy walking on the dark side once in awhile (fictionally speaking, of course), I can only handle so much bleakness in my reading.  Thus, I've mostly stuck with YA dystopians, leaving the adult versions to hardier readers.  I have fewer nightmares that way.  

I should have known Megan (of Leafing Through Life fame) would lead me astray.  Her reviews are just too darn convincing.  She tempted me with this intriguing recap of White Horse by Alex Adams and like the proverbial lamb, I was led right to the slaughter.  Believe me, I tried to resist—I even put the book down several times.  Not for long, though.  The story Adams tells is just too dang compelling.  I had to read it.  And fast.  So I did.  I liked it, too, even though I'm kind of ashamed to admit it.  Because as absorbing as the  novel is, it's also very raw and extremely graphic.  Disturbing in the extreme.  It's like a Stephen King novel, just with more succinct and clever prose.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's back up and talk plot:

White Horse revolves around Zoe Marshall, a 30-year-old widow, whose life has been pretty ordinary up until now.  Now being the end of the world.  A vicious plague has swept the planet, killing 90% of Earth's population.  Zoe's one of the few survivors, although she's feeling anything but lucky.  Without electricity, medical supplies, gasoline or any of the "necessities" she's used to having, she might as well be living in the Dark Ages.  What's left of the world's population has gone mad, willing to steal, maim, even murder in order to ensure their own survival.  It's all so hopeless that Zoe probably would have given up long ago if it wasn't for a man.  She's fallen hard for her psychiatrist, Nick Rose, and she refuses to die until she finds him.  But trekking through a bleak, broken Europe is not easy, nor is it safe.  Danger lurks around every corner, hiding in the shadows of this empty, changed world.  Zoe can't trust anyone because, diseased or not, they've all become monsters ... Clinging to her tattered faith in humanity, she soldiers on, wondering how long it will take before she, too, turns into something completely unrecognizable.  

Yeah, I know.  The book sounds interesting—it is interesting.  Too interesting.  And well-written to boot.  Adams knows how to manipulate language so that it's both raw and beautiful, violent and lovely.  She's creative, too, able to twist a plot in ways the reader never sees coming (the last line of the novel is brilliant, I tell you, absolutely brilliant).  And, while White Horse is relentlessly gory and graphic, it's also unyieldingly hopeful.  Overall, it's a complex, convincing novel that makes me eager for the next installment in the series (I know, I know!).  I can't emphasize this point enough, though:  White Horse is not for the feint of heart.  Proceed with caution because, once you start reading it, you will not be able to stop.  You've been warned.  

(Readalikes:  Although I haven't actually read the book, The Road by Cormac McCarthy comes to mind.  Also, The Passage by Justin Cronin.)

Grade:  B

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  R for strong language, violence, gore, sexual contact and all-around disturbing content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of White Horse from Barnes & Noble with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.  
     

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this one! I think I will be adding it to my TBR... I was especially intrigued that you choose The Road & The Passage as readalikes- I enjoyed both books.

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  2. I'm passing on this one!! Seriously, I have enough trouble sleeping...I don't need to be freaked out on top of everything else. :)

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