Wednesday, September 12, 2012
In post-apocalyptic California, Cass Dollar lives in the Box, a haven for people with physical comforts, with her daughter Ruthie and her boyfriend Smoke. Everything is going well for them at first, but then lack of communication puts a strain on their relationship. Cass also senses the Box is declining, running out of reliable and safe places to raid and people simply straining to remain cordial in the face of despair. When word comes to the Box that the school where Cass went after recovered from her Beater attack was destroyed by Rebuilders. People who opposed or ran from the Rebuilders were killed and the rest were captured. Smoke's ex-girlfirend was included in the dead and Dor's daughter was captured. Smoke wants to exact his revenge. He leaves without saying goodbye and Cass is furious. She decides to abandon the Box with Dor, its leader, in a quest to rescue her from the Rebuilders and perhaps find a better, more permanent place to live with her daughter. They venture into the Beater infested wasteland and will hopefully survive their dangerous mission.
I enjoyed Aftertime and I was excited to get my hands on Rebirth. This book is much less action packed than its predecessor and the Beaters play a much smaller role. The whole tone is more contemplative and introspective. Cass has found her daughter and found love. She examines how her sordid life before Aftertime influences her actions and decisions now. Her narrative delves more into that past, including the rape she endured by the hands of her stepfather, the meaningless sex with hundreds of men as a teen and young adult, and the alcohol abuse she used to drown out her pain. In the last book, she was singlemindedly working towards her daughter and had no real time for introspection. Now, she is lost and some of those behaviors and horrible, self hating thoughts sneak back. I like that it shows that even in extraordinary situations, our pasts can still effect us. Just because there are new traumas doesn't mean that old traumas are magically gone. Cass's daughter Ruthie is a much more significant character and actual begins to speak. I really like her and her very serious, deliberate demeanor. I want to see how her character develops in future books.
The Beaters had a relatively small part in the story, but still were frightening when they appeared. More is revealed about their anatomy and they exhibit some new disturbing behaviors. This different type of zombie is particularly frightening because of the way they attack and eat in such a way that the person is alive for as long as possible. This narrative also reveals what some of the initial outbreak was like. Our human villains are as evil as ever. Where the last book focused on the Convent, this one focuses on the Rebuilders who kill, steal, and abuse in the name of a government that no longer exists. Their plan for the future and their leader Mary Vane are way more disturbing than any Beater could ever be. The fact that people can act so terribly when the whole world is desolate and barren is mind blowing to me.
Although I liked learning about Cass's past, I found the narrative prone to sidetrack very often and I just wanted the story to progress in an even way. The pacing felt stunted as a result until the end when all hell breaks loose. I didn't entirely like Dor because he changed his outward demeanor depending on who was around him and frequently belittled Cass. She wasn't entirely perfect, but she didn't deserve to be treated so badly. In turn, she acted weak for much of the novel. Sure, she was working through her issues, but she was so much more consistently stronger in the last book that I wanted to shake her. I don't like the developing love triangle between and I hope it doesn't become like so many other lame series out there. However, the ending was amazing and made me forgive every flaw about this book.
Rebirth is a great followup to Aftertime, even though it lacks a good pace. It does provide extremely evil villains, realistic emotion and character development, and a satisfying ending. I hope the next book brings more Beaters and less romantic drama. I will definitely be reading Horizon.
My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins