by Alex Adams
Series: White Horse #1
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the President of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are not defined by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places.
White Horse is the first novel in the White Horse trilogy and shares the beginning of a post-apocalyptic dystopian world and its downfall. It is dark, gritty, and eerily real. Adam shares with us the many facets of a man at his best and worst. She immediately captured my attention with her riveting world-building and her raw, fleshed out characters. This tale immediately made me think of the Passage by John Cronin and the awesomeness I felt while embarking on that journey. Within the first few pages, I knew I had in my hands a novel I would not soon forget.
The tale introduces us to Zoe, a thirty-one-year-old janitor at Pope Pharmaceuticals. The President of the United States announces humans are no longer a viable species as a mass epidemic begins to wipe out the population. Slowly the world around Zoe crumbles and she begins to lose loved ones and friends. She begins to witness horrible changes and suspect that her employer is involved. When she is left alone, she embarks on a journey that will take her halfway across the world. She travels for hope, and a secret she carries. Along the way, she encounters both horrors and humanity at its best. She uncovers truths and learns that we are what we choose to be. The tale that unfolds is enthralling and engaging.
Zoe is flawed, complicated and very intelligent. She chose to work as a janitor since it required little thinking and Adams does an excellent job of fleshing her out. Zoe became real, and I understood what compelled her. The transformation of her character, her compassion and her capacity to love endeared her to me. Nick was a therapist before the outbreak, went to war and returns to find everyone he loved is gone. He reconnects with Zoe his former patient and they lean on each other. Their relationship was complicated and compelled Zoe to act. Other characters added to the tale, like the evil Swiss who made my insides curdle.
The story Adams shares have a realism to it that is both horrifying and riveting. Her writing style compels you to read on as she brings both the characters and landscape to life. The tale flowed wonderfully and the tension built as we dare to hope with Zoe. We are presented with the tale in two parts as we travel back and forth between “Then” and “Now”. While in the then we get a better understanding of the world, the epidemic, and Zoe. We begin to understand why she has embarked on this quest to travel halfway around the world. When we are in the now we face the brutal and dark reality of the new world. Each transition was labeled, and not once did I mind traveling back and forth as I found them equally compelling. With Zoe, we travel by air, by land and sea and along the way we encounter humanity at its best and worse. Some humans were immune to the virus, but others survived and it changed them. The transformation was both fascinating and creepy! If you are familiar with the chapter of Revelations in the Bible, then the title of this book will not be lost on you. In the tale, an evangelist declares the virus is the first horse of the apocalypse, often referred to as the White Horse. Adams brought all of the threads throughout this novel together and gave me an ending that excited me, and has me anxious for the next chapter. While all of my questions were not answered, those that were wowed me and have me eager to learn more.
If you love dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels then White Horse is a must-read. This is a dark, adult novel and some parts may make you squeamish; you have been warned. Red Horse the second book will be released in August of 2013 and this reader cannot wait.
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