Red Hill by Jamie McGuire

November 6th, 2013 Kimberly Review 54 Comments

6th Nov
Red Hill by Jamie McGuire
Red Hill
by Jamie McGuire
Genres: Dystopian
Source: Purchase
Rating: One StarOne StarHalf a Star

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
One StarOne StarHalf a Star

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

54 Responses to “Red Hill by Jamie McGuire”

  1. tonyalee

    I was really excited to read this one once I heard about it..

    I am a character driven person. I like to connect with my characters and be able to understand a lot of what is going on. It seems like since this one has so many different POV and a lot going on, with the added lack of world building, it doesn’t really sound like one I would enjoy.

    I might give it a go but I am in no hurry to pick it up. Great review 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am not sorry that I read it, but yes I wanted more from characters and world.

  2. Kim { Book Swoon }

    I’ve been so curious about Red Hill by Jamie McGuire. I loved her Beautiful series, and the same goes for Dystopians and Zombies genres, but I might have to save this one for later. The last three or so books I’ve been reading have been lacking in the character development area also. Thanks for pointing out the pros and cons Kim. I’m still a Jamie McGuire fan, only saving this one for a later time 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I do not regret reading it, and the foundation was there right down to the characters but I needed more. I hope she tried this genre again.

  3. Bella's Shelf

    I see I am not the only one who wasnt in love with this zbee tale.
    I picked it up about a week or so back and couldnt get into it.
    Normally I adore zbee tales too. I have read some seriously “bad” ones that I adored.
    Luckily there are more books in the ocean! Or is that fish? Oh IDK! lolz

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Not my favorite but it wasn’t a total loss for me either 🙂

  4. Pamela D

    This is disappointing that the world building wasn’t great. I think this is vital in zombie and post-apocalyptic books. It is important to know why the society is how it is.

  5. Andrea

    I enjoyed Red Hill so much, but can see your point on certain aspects. Scarlett and Miranda were both difficult, but Nathan was great. Skeeter too.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am so glad you loved it, I just needed more and had trouble with the ending regarding S and her girls.

  6. Sharon - Obsession with Books

    I haven’t read anything by this author but I think I’d be put-off by the same things as you and for a dystopian novel I’d definitely need more details and world-building.

    A great, honest review Kimba!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Sharon I had high hopes, but yes with dystopians the details are everything.

  7. Michele

    Oh dear. I was not a huge fan of Beautiful Disaster, but I added this one to my Christmas list because it sounded so good… now I’m not so sure. Thank you for the enlightening review! I do love my zombie reads so I will give this a shot due to the action scenes and travels being excellent, but I like going in knowing a bit more of what to expect. Fabulous review, Kimba!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      thanks Michelle, I really wanted to love this too, in fact I pre-ordered it. The story is there, it just had problems. I still enjoyed it despite it all.

  8. Christy

    Huh …. me and plot holes don’t mix well. And that suck about the characters since I’m big on needing great characters. I go back-and-forth with wanting to read this book so many damn times.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Library read my dear. You eyes will roll with some of the impossible events that occur.

  9. Braine Talk Supe

    Ha! I think this is the first low rating I’ve ever read for this book and on this blog.

    I’m not a big zombie/apocalypse reader because I’m a coward and it makes me shiver to think about that. I always say I don’t want to survive. But from the handful I read, I have to say I’m interested in the human interest part of the story. Being in dire straits bring out extreme personalities and odd coping mechanisms. Sorry to hear that you weren’t satisfied with some of its parts but I do understand why you needed those to find the story satisfactory.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am glad some peeps are loving it. World building, plausibility and character development are important to me, and so this suffered, as did my rating. I have run across 3’s, and DNFs for this, I haven’t had the privilege of reading a glowing review. Hmm, as for my blog all of my reviews aren’t glowing, but the lowest rating I have posted to the blog are twos.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The story was there, it just needed to be fleshed out. I will not hesitate to DNF a book, but I didn’t struggle to read this.

  10. Heidi

    I think I am going to pass on this one as I am such a stickler for details and world building. Felicia couldn’t even make it through this one and you weren’t exactly over the moon over it. I appreciate the insight!

  11. Lily B

    Aww sorry it didn’t live up to expectations. it sounds like the idea was there, just fell short. Not sure how I myself would feel with the three person point of view as 2 person point of view sometimes throws me off

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The way it was told worked as each group moved towards Red Hill. The foundation was really there it just needed more developing and fleshing out.

  12. Trish

    I had no idea this one was zombie focused. From all you say, I’ll be skipping this one for now. I still need to read the Beautiful series anyway and that one sounds much more like something I’d like.

  13. Jenea

    The plot sounds really good, it’s too bad it didn’t really turn out that way world building wise. At least you still enjoyed it. 🙂

  14. Maggie K.

    I am also a big fan of the Beautiful series and when I saw she was crossing over to Dystopia I was intrigue and skeptical as the same time. I don’t think I’ll be adding this one to my pile. Thanks for sharing!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Maggie, I am not sorry that I read it, parts entertained me but I wanted more 🙁

  15. Lupdilup

    I absolutely agree with you! I was expecting a lot more, and the story and characters felt flat. I gave the book 3.5 stars (generously) because I loved the narration- 3 narrators, and I though they did a fantastic job with what they had.
    Maybe we read so many post-apocalyptic novels that it takes a lot to wow us anymore.
    Well put! Kimba 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was interesting, and the characters appealed to me…but I wanted to know them, and feel. Ooo and that scene before the end..really?!? like that would ever happen.

  16. Ellen

    Thanks for the great and very informative review. I just read another review for this book and that review voiced some of the same concerns you had. The lack of character development would bother me also. I am not a huge zombie fan – I am more of the Warm Bodies type of zombie fan than the Walking Dead kind. I still will probably check this out eventually.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      As a fan, I am glad that I read it. It just needed more development and believability.

  17. Julie S.

    I’ve seen so many glowing reviews of Red Hill, that I’m really enjoying reading this review. I plan to read it later this month so I’m curious to see if I’ll agree with you.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Julie, I hope you enjoy it. I loved parts, but this could have been so much more, and some parts had me rolling my eyes. I look forward to your thoughts! 🙂

  18. kindlemom1

    I really liked this one but I agree that the world building (or lack thereof) could have been ten times better. I guess I went into it with just the expectation that I would get something hopefully fun and different from this author, which I did.

    Sorry you didn’t like this one more Kim.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Right? I wanted to adore this, and I am not sorry that I read it, but it could have been epic.

  19. Mary

    I’m definitely going to say no to this one. I didn’t like her Walking Disaster book and, with too many annoying characters and lack of worldbuilding, this one goes firmly on the no list (plus, I’ve read a couple other reviews from people I trust, add in your review now and…no). Great review, though!

  20. Jeann

    Can’t wait to get into it, but it’s a shame about that world building! I was wondering how the author would do cross genres and I’m glad the writing is still good.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I honestly think if you know going in there are issues you might actually enjoy it more. It isn’t a bad read, I had struggles reading it.

  21. Jennifer Bielman

    Though I love the author, I was scared to read this one. It just seemed like such an extreme jump in genre. The characterization problems would bother me for sure. Still not sure if I will read this one.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Reviews are all over the place, some of the things that happen were so unrealistic that I can see you pulling your hair out.

  22. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    Now I am really glad that I am trading this book with a fellow blogger because when this showed up on my front door step I was like, ‘Nope!’ Poor world building in a dystopian book just ins’t good enough for me.

    Lovely review, Kimba! <33

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Agreed Melanie, and I need the author to make me believe 🙁

  23. DannyBookworm

    As much as I love her beautiful Series I do not think this will be a book for me. Even before reading your review, it felt like it was a plot that it’s not super new and outstanding.
    so yes I am a Fan of Jamie McGuirre, but neither a Zombie nor a Dystopian fan:)

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was a shame because it flowed well, and I never wanted to call it quits, it just needed More 🙁