Author: Susanne Winnacker
Pages: Hardback, 254
Published: May 15, 2012
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish
Opening Lines: "3 years, 1 month, 1 week, and 6 days since I'd seen daylight. One-fifth of my life."
"Sherry has live with her family in a sealed bunker for more than three years. Her grandfather's body has been in the freezer for the last six months, her parents are at each other's throats . . . and two minutes ago, they ran out of food. Sherry and her father must leave the safety of the nunker. What they find is an empty Los Angeles, destroyed by bombs and haunted by "Weepers"—savage humans infected with a rabies virus.
"While searching for food, Sherry's father disappears and Sherry is save by Joshua, a hunter. He takes her to Safe-haven, a vineyard where a handful of survivors are picking up the pieces of their 'other lives,' before the virus changed everything. Sherry must find a way to help her family, stay alive, and decide whether Joshua is their savior or greatest danger as his desire for vengeance threatens them all."
~ Jacket copy
Thoughts: To be honest, I knew absolutely nothing about this book. When I decided to do an apocalypse themed reading month, this book came to my attention. The idea of a virus turning most of the population into mindless killing machines is awesome! It is close enough to zombie fiction that you will get me every time. However, when I read about a savage rabies virus, I instantly thought of Quarantine with Jennifer Carpenter (And, yes, I was the only person that laughed when that was revealed. I got rather strange looks from the other two people in the audience . . .).
The book opens with Sherry counting the years, months, weeks, days, etc. since she has last seen daylight, and the startling realization that her family of six has just ran out of food. During the next few pages, the audience learns that the citizens of L.A. were told to barricade themselves in their bunkers until the military told them everything was safe. However, it doesn't appear as though they fully know why. Regardless of that, after the military radio message has stopped, Sherry's family remained in their bunker. Unfortunately, with the last can of food already gone and the family facing slow starvation, Sherry and her dad must leave the safety of their bunker to brave an unknown L.A. in order to find food for the family. What they didn't expect is coming across weird, furry humanoid creatures with a milky white substance leaking from their eyes and an insatiable desire to ingest their flesh. And, if that isn't bad enough, Sherry's father is abducted by these creatures and taken to their food stores. However, Sherry is lucky to be rescued by Joshua—the typical Byronic Hero of YA fiction—and taken to a Safe-haven of other survivors. This begins their quest to save Sherry's family and rescue her father from the Weepers.
Honestly, even though this book was rather formulaic and predictable, I enjoyed it! Sherry's constant counting of time started to get on my nerve; however, after being locked in a bunker for over three years, it seemed inside the realm of possibility. Further, it kind of appealed to my OCD. In a lot of ways, Sherry was the classic teen figure in YA fiction. However, I did appreciate that the author didn't make her perfect. Her inability to fire a gun under pressure, using too much ammo, etc. was believable to me. Even going through a lot of target practice, faced with shooting somebody, especially in an intense situation, does not guarantee that you will be a good shot. However, that did improve as the story progressed.
I wish the author had spent a little more time developing the supporting characters. Their lack of development made them feel more like scenery. It was worse with Sherry's grandmother. When one of the characters died in the book, I didn't feel any real loss. And, sadly enough, I felt Sherry and the other people had the same reaction. That really distressed me as a reader. Further, since Joshua was important to Sherry, the author should have spent a lot more time on him and fleshing out his back story. Granted, I understand that she was pulling the classic Byronic Hero, but he needed more.
Despite its formulaic plot, this book was enjoyable! I loved where Safe-haven was located, the surveillance was awesome, and it was just fun. It appears that the next book should be published in March, and I honestly cannot wait that long.