Published: Ecco, 2016
Genre: Thriller, dystopian
My rating: 4/5 stars
Description: “Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from. Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat–blindfolded–with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?” (Goodreads)
Why I picked it up: This was my university book club’s October book. It had been on my TBR for a while, and I had heard great things about it, I looked forward to reading it when it was chosen.
Summary: I really enjoyed this book. I don’t know if I would have ever picked it up from by TBR on my own since it’s much different than what I normally lean toward but I was pleasently surprised. It was well-written, face-paced, and featured fantastic characters.
For the characters being blind-folded for a good portion of this book, there was definitely a well-grounded setting. I felt like I could clearly see the world in which this was taking place, and Malerman did a fantastic job with creating emotion. This was a book that was easy to get immersed in. I doubted reviews that said it was a one-sitting read but after finishing it I know I could have read it in one sitting if I had the time.
The story switches between the present and four years prior. At first, I wasn’t a fan of this, as I’m usually not. However, I thought it worked so well with this story. I’ll admit I was usually more interested in the chapters set in the past rather than the present ones but they were both quick-paced and interesting. I can’t recall a single boring moment during this read. It was all very realistic to me as well. I’m very careful with dystopian books because I’ve been disappointed by so many, but this book built a dystopian world that was so believable to me. It was quite a pleasant surprise. I felt that Malerman tied the two timelines together very well, and the adrenaline hit at the same time, causing me to frantically flip pages trying to figure out what was going down. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that had me rushing to the end.
I absolutely adored our protagonist Malorie. She is so different in the two timelines, and it was great seeing how she changed and why. Her development was quality, and she definitely drove the story. A question that was frequently raised throughout the story was if Malorie was raising her two children the right way in a world where it was so difficult to be a parent. I felt like this was a driving factor for Malorie and the story, and it said a lot about her character.
One of the elements I enjoyed this most about this story was the housemates. Though they play a small role and aren’t all that well-rounded, I still found them interesting and likable, especially Tom and Olympia. The relationships grow in change over the short time span and they play such a vital role in who Malorie is and how she survives. I also loved to hate (or fear) Gary and Don. This was definitely a character-driven story (my favorite kind) and it worked well.
Malerman’s writing isn’t poetic or deep, but it works well for the story. He write in quick, short sentences that I personally feel adds to the reading experience. The situation calls for quick and short, so Malerman writes quick and short. The chapters are short and sweet for the most part, and it definitely kept me flipping pages. The descriptions are wonderful as well and, as I said, allow the reader to see a world that the characters barely glimpse themselves.
Recommend for fans of: Robert McGammon, Room by Emma Donoghue, American Horror Story (TV)