Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Cass Dollar is a survivor. She has survived addiction, cannibalistic zombies (called beaters) attacking her, turning into a cannabalistic zombie, losing her daughter, and fighting until finding her again. Now Cass is living in a fairly comfortable life in a community called New Eden of fairly friendly people. She doesn't have to fight every day or worry about someone taking her daughter or keep looking over her shoulder. Everything seems to be going fine except she keeps sleeping with Dor despite Smoke being in a coma and she's started drinking again. Everything comes crashing down when beaters start to swarm the shores of the river bordering New Eden and slowly learn to swim. The inhabitants know they are no longer safe and are forced to travel through a dangerous wasteland full of beaters and unsavory people alike. Can Cass's group overcome their weaknesses and survive to be able to find someplace safe to live?

This is the third book in the Aftertime series and it's still going strong. Cass Dollar is one of my favorite zombie apocalypse characters because of her strengths, her weakness, and her humanity. She was attacked by beaters when she first got her daughter back because she was an addict deemed unfit to have custody. She has no idea what she did when affected by the beater fever, but she has a huge amount of guilt over who she may have hurt. Now, Cass does physical labor to keep her mind off her troubles in addition to some drinking at night when she's not responsible for anyone. She has doubts and sometimes doesn't feel she deserves such a comfortable life. I admire her strength and her ability to persevere through everything: being a beater, addiction, relapse, and everything this post-apocalyptic life can throw at her. She's also one of the most physically capable people to take on the beaters. New Haven has gotten too comfortable and very few people have the skills she and Dor have to protect themselves. Cass isn't the best or most virtuous person, but she does her best. Most of the people in this world are shades of grey rather than stark black and white.

The beaters are frightening creatures who aren't strictly dead, but can sustain crazy amounts of damage to their bodies before succumbing to their wounds. They eat people, themselves, and each other (but only in extreme situations). They don't change too much or at a fast rate, but they slowly learn from their comrades mistakes until they can do things like swim and ambush a group of humans. Their nests are disgusting to behold and their appearance gets less and less human as they age. As always, the disease is transmitted through bites or fluid exchange. The beaters are brutal creatures that match this brutal world.

Two things bothered me about the book. One is Cass's total lack of caring that she saw the beaters in huge numbers AND saw them learning to swim without telling anyone. They could have done something to save their haven rather than having a few people die and then relocate when it became too dangerous. I also thought it was weird that she didn't harbor any guilt about that either. The other is the love triangle situation. It's actually a pretty unique one because both men are well characterized and very different. However, I thought her choice was clear pretty early on and it just seemed to drag out too long after that. Other than that, Horizon is an enjoyable but dark read. There are no sappy happy endings for these characters and I appreciate that Sophie Littlefield keeps that realism consistent throughout the series.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

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