by Jamie McGuire
When the world ends, can love survive? For Scarlet, raising her two daughters alone makes fighting for tomorrow an everyday battle. Nathan has a wife, but can’t remember what it’s like to be in love; only his young daughter Zoe makes coming home worthwhile. Miranda’s biggest concern is whether her new VW Bug is big enough to carry her sister and their boyfriends on a weekend escape from college finals. When reports of a widespread, deadly “outbreak” begin to surface, these ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances and suddenly their fates are intertwined. Recognizing they can’t outrun the danger, Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda desperately seek shelter at the same secluded ranch, Red Hill. Emotions run high while old and new relationships are tested in the face of a terrifying enemy—an enemy who no longer remembers what it’s like to be human. Set against the backdrop of a brilliantly realized apocalyptic world, love somehow finds a way to survive. But what happens when the one you’d die for becomes the one who could destroy you?
I adored Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful series and was quite curious when she embarked on a dystopian zombie book for her next adventure. Red Hill offered up a made for television break-out, joining together groups of survivors as they made their way to Red Hill; a property that connected them. The writing was beautiful but not without flaws. Mini review: interesting, heart-wrenching and at times irritating.
McGuire relayed Red Hill using multiple third person narratives. We are there from the beginning of the outbreak as survivors work to get themselves away from the city to an old farm house in the country. Two sisters are traveling to Red Hill with there with their significant others. A mother of two travels there because she knows the man who owns it and others are picked up along the way. We are privy to the journey, the teamwork, the struggles, fears and dangers as this team work together after the fall of society. While I had issues with Red Hill, I will be the first to admit I could not put it down as McGuire held me captive.
The characters within the pages of Red Hill were interesting and ranged from kick-ass to annoying. It took a long time to connect with these characters and some I came to admire while others annoyed the crap out of me. Because of the way the tale was told, they were not fleshed out until the last third of the book. Scarlet is the first character we meet and our kick-ass infected/Ted/shuffler killer. Separated from her children, she is determined and was all “Mommy power”. I got that but then she would turn around and flip a switch and just kill a turned friend without even blinking. The woman was cold. *shivers* Nathan grabs his daughter and heads to his brother-in-laws home outside of the city. Out, of all of the characters he is the one I related to most, and we gain a lot of insight from him. Miranda and Ashley are sisters and Red Hill is owned by their father. They are traveling with their boyfriends Bryce and Cooper. Miranda was an annoying little snot. I liked the boys but even they were not fleshed out enough and I found myself wanting more. Skeeter is Nathan’s brother-in-law. I liked him, and felt his scenes with his wife Jilly were powerful. Joey is a stranger. He is ex-military and suffering from the loss of his girl, he was an interesting character and was a key factor in their survival. While most were not fleshed out till around 60% I was still left wanting more. I did become connected to a certain extent. I felt loss and heartache for characters but it could have been more powerful had the characters had more depth.
Red Hill showcases McGuire’s talent, and she can indeed cross genres but this tale needed more development. Plot holes, underdeveloped characters, and unrealistic happenings, that took this tale from a “blow your mind” read to an “it was entertaining” read. I needed more set up to the world building. This epidemic hit the US shores and exploded within hours. McGuire gave us some interesting tidbits, but they were superficial at best. I loved the three povs but would have sacrificed pacing for more developed characters. McGuire did an excellent job with the action scenes, and their travels. She is quite skilled with allowing a tale to flow, and painting the surroundings. It was an easy read, and I slipped in to the world. I even had my heart ripped out a couple of times. Some of the events that occurred, particularly regarding Scarlet’s children were unrealistic. Jaw-dropping moments! Even with the author’s explanation I could not buy into it. Despite all of this, I could not put the book down, and I am glad that I read it.
Fans of McGuire, zombies and dystopian reads, will find Red Hill to be an entertaining read despite the flaws I mentioned.
Two and half cups of coffee out of five