Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “We were surviving, but everyday felt less like living .”
A virus is sweeping the nation, pitting man against man. When a small group of people find themselves at the same abandoned farm house, their fates become intertwined and their survival depends on one another. A woman looking for her daughters, a man trying to protect his only child, and a teenager and her friends trying to survive all find themselves pushed to the brink and forced to do things to that will either make them stronger…or destroy them in the end.
I’m going to tell you all a secret. I’m not a huge fan of Zombie genre or post apocalyptic books. The whole “eating your face” off and surviving the end of the world scenarios just don’t do it for me. Luckily for me though, while McGuire’s Red Hill is a zombie apocalyptic novel, it is more character driven and the focus is narrowed to the emotional and mental journeys our protagonists face.
Red Hill is told by three characters. Nathan, a father whose disagreeable wife leaves him the day of the outbreak. Scarlett, a divorcee whose so tired of being strong finds herself with untapped reserves when she can’t find her children. Miranda, a teenager who is struggling to make it to their father’s ranch-Red Hill. Though one would think a story told by three protagonists would become confusing, McGuire uses a deft hand in merging each voice, creating an evenly maintained engaging flow of conversation and action. Some chapters run concurrent, allowing us to see certain situations from multiple viewpoints. Steady pacing and a well written engaging story keeps the readers attention as we tag along with our characters into the unknown.
The story reveals itself slowly, introducing our characters and their back stories against the backdrop of pandemonium. No one is sure exactly what is happening as the news reports are frantic with half truths and pieces of information. As the hospitals fill, people begins to panic and chaos reigns. It’s always interesting to read about these scenarios and wonder how you would react in the face of something like this. Would you stay cool and focused or would you panic? Will you be a hero and help your fellow man or will you look out only for yourself? McGuire addresses this and more in the development of her characters dialogue and actions. One aspect I enjoyed was the honesty McGuire forces into her characters. While everyone would love to be hero and act above the board, we can’t negate the everyday emotions that make up our humanity. Love, lust, fear, anger, and selfishness exist and will always be a prevalent force no matter the situation we are in.
“You shouldn’t have let her go,” I snapped. “Everyone we love is out there.”
Nathan’s worried eyes softened as he looked down at his daughter. “How could I argue with her when I would do the same?”
Romance isn’t the focus, a strong undercurrent of love flows through the story. Family takes on new definitions as these people begin to form attachment bonds with one another. McGuire examines new and old relationships and the causes and effects behind them. How realistic is it to cling to relationships that existed before the outbreak? How long do you grieve for those you loss during the outbreak? Each person in here experiences a loss and the emotional toll manifests in each of them differently. What makes one relationship more important than another during these unsure times? Attraction runs rampant through here but the reasons for each go further than just the basic human need of protection and procreation. We have to ask ourselves…is it the beginning of love or just the effects of their situation? Our characters are forced to acknowledge and answer these questions and more as the situation at Red Hill becomes more volatile.
The ending is bittersweet as some see their prayers are answered and others see their dreams crushed. Though it isn’t necessarily a traditional happy ending, it’s a respectable one and it keeps in sync with the premise story. Red Hill isn’t your typical zombie story but it’s engaging narrative is sure to appeal to both horror and contemporary fans alike.