The absolute best thing about this book was the world. I have never read a Romance like it and it rocked my world. It felt so fresh and different from the usual Paranormal Romances. There weren’t any zombies in it (although they sure seemed zombie-like), but it read just like a zombie movie. It had all the tension and excitement inherent to those movies. Because the dawning of the Dark Age was occurring as we were reading the book, we (the reader) faced the same uncertainty and nerves that the characters did. It was a very effective way of sucking me in.
I know I just mentioned it, but I want to stress how much I loved the way the book unfolded. The Dark Age didn’t happen at the same time for everyone. It didn’t start in the United States at all. So rumors and fear are widespread, even though some people don’t believe it will spread. It settled in the East when it finally hit the U.S. The West side split from them and lived in their comfortable world of denial. They didn’t believe the rumors of what was really going on out there in the world. Because of their denial we get to discover the truth right alongside Jenna, our heroine from the West. We don’t know quite what is going on, we just know they need to hide. Electronics stop working, cars won’t start. And the demon dogs are the stuff of nightmares.
I loved the way the author setup the early interactions between Jenna and Mason. He doesn’t come up to her and try to explain and rationalize what is going to happen. He knows time is running out so he does the most expedient thing—he kidnaps her. Honest to God kidnaps her. She’s terrified and she doesn’t trust him, even when he starts to explain. It’s not until undeniable proof is presented later that she really believes. I loved that this wasn’t sugarcoated, because I wouldn’t have believed it if it had been. But with the way it was written I could understand Jenna’s emotions, just like I could understand her slow softening toward him after she learned the truth.
Although from the subject matter you would think this would be a book filled with nonstop action, it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there was action and horror, that’s just not all there was. The author included slower, tension filled sections that gave us a good idea of how scary (and boring) the waiting can be. And when Jenna extends their safety to a group of strangers we get to see that being a Good Samaritan is not always a good idea when food is in short supply.
I loved that we got to see a wide range of characters. They were true strangers and each had a very different personality. I really, really loved getting to see how each person reacted differently to the situation. I find myself curious about Penny, but Tru is the secondary character that I liked the most. I liked watching him grow from being a punk kid who hasn’t seen an eyeliner he doesn’t like (kidding!) to being an integral part of their survival team. I guess the apocalypse was the making of him.
I found Mason and Jenna’s relationship by turns compelling and disturbing. Mason was focused on keeping them alive and rarely gave in to softer emotions. I can understand his hyper vigilance even though Jenna had an issue with it. Jenna’s emotions rocked back and forth between angry and thankful. I could understand her out of kilter emotions to a degree (the world is going to hell, after all), but it was taken to the extreme a little too much. I actually came to intensely dislike Jenna. By the end of the book I was mostly fond of her again, but it was a close thing there for a while.
Jenna would push Mason for caring and affection and then become intensely angry when he shook her off. But half the time they were in a very dangerous situation. I cheered Mason on for brushing her off when she wanted to hold his hand for comfort. He needs to be at the ready to fight because he was really the only thing keeping them from dying. That’s what made me so angry at her. I am tired of people who bitch and moan about the person who is keeping their ass alive. They’re in every movie or book where characters are forced to survive in a world gone mad, and I’m sick of those people criticizing the very skills that are saving them. Personally, I want that tough as nails person with me when the end comes.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that Mason did need to learn how to relax and allow intimacy during the down times. I’m not saying he didn’t need to work on it, I’m just saying that I was tired of Jenna picking the worst moment for affection and then taking it so personally when he didn’t cooperate. And the fact that Jenna thought it was okay to punish him by being a tease? Very, very unattractive in my eyes. No wonder he was afraid to try to get close after that.
Because Jenna’s emotions were all over the place I never knew quite how she would react to anything. It was like being around someone with a short fuse. You constantly wondered when they were going to snap this time around. The emotions were portrayed well and it all felt intense, but they kind of made me uncomfortable. They were even physically fighting with each other at one point. And they both tended to link anger with arousal. It was intense, sure, but it just wasn’t for me.
When Mason and Jenna finally got together in the end it didn’t feel quite right to me. At times I really wondered if the author kept changing her mind while writing about how she wanted to portray Jenna because she felt a little bipolar. Because she was so all over the place with her emotions I didn’t think her quick switch to love and devoted caring for Mason felt authentic. I needed a more gradual change for a girl that could be so whacked out.
Although I had issues with the romance I still plan to rush out and buy the second book whenever it comes out. The book was gritty and dark and the author was not afraid to throw in an unexpected twist or two. I had a hard time accepting the hero and heroine’s ability to communicate and work through their issues, but I had no doubts about the sexual tension. That sucker popped. So if you’re in the mood for something different, I recommend giving this a whirl.
“If survival means kissing somebody who smells like you, I want no part of it.”