Friday, 10 February 2012

Review: The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker

In One Line: Girl emerges from protective bunker and finds her world ravaged by mutant zombie creatures - but it’s ok because there’s a hot boy to save the day!
Genre: Post-apocalyptic zombie-horror lite. 
The Gist:
Sherry is trapped in a bunker with her family and she has been in there for a LONG time. Outside a horrible virus and bombs have ravaged her world, and when food runs out in the bunker, Sherry and her Dad venture outside to see what’s going on. And it’s really not good. Dad instantly gets captured, but then a hot boy arrives and saves Sherry from being eaten alive. What follows is a desperate attempt to rescue Sherry’s dad and figure out why the hell nobody has come to rescue all the survivors out there. 
The Cover:
From a distance the cover looks quite sweet - bold letters, swirly shapes and butterflies! But get closer and you realise that the swirls are really barbed wire, and the butterfly is really bloody and fearesome! Good work designers. It’s the perfect ‘draw-them-in-then-freak-them-out’ cover. 
Why You’ll Love This Book
  • Weepers! These are genuinely quite disgusting and scary. Those infected by the virus become these foul, hairy beasts who weep milky tears. A properly fearsome detail! 
  • Family values. This is a family who survives TOGETHER. After so many books where the teens have to cope on their own, sometimes it’s comforting to know that Sherry isn’t completely alone. 
  • Josh - he’s tortured and heroic and used to being alone, ok? But we all know that he’s gorgeous and that Sherry is perfect for him. 
  • There is some beautiful writing going on in this book, and descriptions of a ruined LA were particularly stunning. I can also reveal that Winnacker has written this book in English despite her first language being German. Knowing this makes some elements of the writing particularly impressive. 

Why You May Not Love This Book:
  • The science isn’t necessarily all there - sometimes you feel you are missing crucial details. Survival techniques, medical info and the such like. It’s not a huge deal, but every now and again I found myself wanting more depth, and the lack of scientific detail just stopped me engaging in places.
  • I couldn’t help but feel that the book could have gone further and darker. This is probably because I’m a big YA reader and I’m used to things being a lot more intense. 
  • The chapter interludes. Inbetween each chapter is a little snippet of life before the catastrophe, and while these are cute and showcase Winnacker’s great writing talent, I was hoping that they’d end up more necessary to the overall plot. They aren’t. But they are pretty. 
  • Big plot problem - why does Josh instantly presume that Sherry’s dad is alive and being held captive? Why do they go and risk their lives to rescue him? My instinct told me that if you’re captured by mutant cannibal creatures then you’re probably dead already. 
  • If you know your post-apocalyptic zombie fiction and have read a lot of it, then there’s nothing new for you here. 

The Hypersomnia Test:
Passed! I stayed awake! I think this is because this book is a very speedy romp - the pace is so fast that you’re completely swept away with it, desperate to know what twist comes next. 
Final Verdict:
I think anyone who is used to the gritty darkness of older zombie books will be disappointed with this - but it doesn’t claim to be bold YA writing. If anything, this is the perfect book for younger readers desperate to read something older but not yet ready for the tough stuff. It reads younger, it avoids controversy, but has it’s moments of thrill and fear. Also the perfect read if you are new to post-apocalyptic zombie fare - this is the kind of book that works as a perfect gateway to the genre. 
Further Reading:
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts
Undead by Kirsty McKay
To buy The Other Life click right HERE!!!

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