Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Published by Spencer Hill Press (6.4.2013)
ARC, 312 pages
Source: From Publisher
Seventeen-year-old Eva is a chosen one. Chosen to live, while others meet a swift and painful death from an incurable virus so lethal, a person is dead within days of symptoms emerging. In the POD system, a series of underground habitats built by the government, she waits with the other chosen for the deadly virus to claim those above. Separated from family and friends, it's in the PODs she meets David. And while true love might not conquer all, it's a balm for the broken soul.
After a year, scientists believe the population has died, and without living hosts, so has the virus. That's the theory, anyway. But when the PODs are opened, survivors find the surface holds a vicious secret. The virus mutated, infecting those left top-side and creating... monsters.
Eva and David hide from the infected in the abandoned PODs. Together they try to build a life--a new beginning. But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival, and pray for a cure.
Huge thanks to Spencer Hill for providing a review copy!
I very nearly DNF’ed this book in the first 20-30 pages. I managed to stick through it somehow – my masochistic nature? or morbid curiosity? who knows – and honestly, I wouldn’t have been missing much. I was really looking forward to reading this because of the idea, but the delivery was so lackluster that it all just fell flat for me.
My first problem happened very early when Eva is chosen to go to the PODs and she realized she has to leave her family and friends behind (to die, basically). Maybe it’s just me, but if someone told me I could go underground to survive a murderous virus while everyone that I loved had to stay upside, there would have been a full on battle because I’d have thrown a fit. I would have been kicking, screaming, and crying. I would have fought the decision tooth and nail. In the end, I probably would have elected to stay behind altogether. What kind of a life is it if you lose everyone? I wouldn’t be able to stand knowing that everyone that mattered and made my life worthwhile had an expiration date.
But no, not Eva. She barely even reacted. She was quick to accept the decision, and acted rather bland to the situation. And she wasn’t scared. What the hell kind of a 17-year-old would not be terrified to leave behind her whole life and watch everyone she loved die? WTF?
When her ‘best friend’ called (and by the way she didn’t even tell her supposed best friend that she was chosen):
“I can’t believe it, Eva. We’re gonna die.” She started crying again. I didn’t know what to say. What do you say to someone who’s just been given a death sentence?
She cried harder, and I couldn’t understand what she said. I sat and listened and let her cry. What else could I do? I was her best friend. I cried with her, for her.
“Why aren’t you more upset, Eva?”
Yeah, Eva, why aren’t you upset? Because there’s nothing you can do? Why should you be worried when you’re the one that’s going to live? Ugh.
Then when she finally did start crying, I felt absolutely nothing. She said she was sad, said she didn’t want to leave them, but there was no show. Don’t tell me something, show me! Make me feel it. I felt so disconnected and apathetic to the story that I didn’t even feel like finishing it. She said it was the last night she’d ever spend with her parents, and I think she should have been waaaay more fazed by that realization. It didn’t help that the scene where she actually said goodbye to her parents was skipped over and shown as a flashback. That made me care even less! I should have been crying while reading it because I would be torn up just thinking about leaving my parents behind. I didn’t even get a twinge of sadness. Nothing.
And you know something I always hate? When a character says ‘I didn’t even realize I was crying.’
She held her arms out for me. I walked into them and she hugged me tight against her. I hadn’t realized I’d been crying until then. The hot tears stung my face.
HOW can you not realize you’re crying? The hot tears stung your face, but you didn’t feel them coming out of your eyeballs? That line always drives me crazy when writers use it. It’s ridiculous. Even when you’re overcome with grief, in the back of your mind you can still feel the tightness in your throat and the sting in your eyes before you start to cry. Jeesh.
Something else that irritates me: Females who ‘hate the sight of blood.’ It’s blood for crying out loud. Suck it up! She completely flipped her shit because she had to prick her finger. It’s a tiny needle. It barely hurts. Grow up and stop being so freaking weak. This was from the same girl that wasn’t afraid to leave everyone she loved to die. Yeah, okay. *eye roll*
The only reason I gave this book even 1 starfish is because of the idea. It really was a great idea: There’s a virus rampaging through humanity and a select few of the population are chosen to live in underground units called PODs (Populace Obliteration Defense) until the virus dies out and it’s safe to go above ground again.
But, unfortunately, the world building was lacking. Sure, I loved the idea, but the delivery needed some work. First of all, the virus has no name. Something along the lines of ‘because there were be no one left to remember it anyway.’ They don’t know what it is, where it came from, or how it even spreads (talk about lazy writing). But they can test for it? How can they know what they’re looking for?
I couldn’t picture anything. When the PODs system was explained, I couldn’t get an image in my head for what it would look like. And while it was cool, it didn’t really make sense. Their means of getting supplies was ‘like a bank teller’s window.’ A chute with air flow and suction. I’m not sure how you’d be able to transport food that way, but okay. I tried not to think to hard about the system, because a lot of it didn’t really make sense. They could only have a specific amount of people, yet they had co-ed PODs? Wouldn’t they want to keep males and females separated to avoid sex/pregnancy? Not to mention that everyone in the PODs were from age 12-25 (no adults? Really?), and they were all 4.0 students. Um, what about common sense? Knowledge can only get you so far if you don’t have common sense. Just because you’re book smart most certainly does not mean you’re street smart. There’s a major difference between the two. And no offense, but in order to survive the apocalypse you need the latter a bit more.
And now we come to my greatest issue: The ‘romance.’ It moved waaay to fast! Eva already said she was ‘falling’ for David on page 82. They had been studying together every night for a month, so the time span was longer, but us readers barely saw any interaction at all. Maybe a few times at the most. So to us, it looks like they barely even know each other. He had been in the story for maybe 40 pages. I didn’t even have time to get to know him, so there was nothing to relate to in the relationship. I couldn’t have cared less. It felt much too soon and needed more development. Then, there was about 20 straight pages of nothing but kissing. There was nothing else happening but Eva and David making out. In fact, I kinda feel like that’s all the last half of the book was. Them kissing and wanting to jump each other’s bones. It was too much for me, and to be honest I skimmed every time they started kissing because it made me want to ralph. I mean seriously, people are dying and you guys are kissing each other? Yeah, that’s realistic.
[After cutting off a POD – aka killing everyone in it]
I’d seen the picture on his laptop before he’d shut it. People running around their POD, a look of terror in their eyes. I reached out and opened the lid of his computer. My arm brushed against his, sending goosebumps racing across my skin. I had to concentrate to remember what I was asking about. [um, the f*cking people dying on the computer screen?]
The screen was nothing but static. “They cut off another one? Who?” I let go of his computer and started to pull my hand away. He grabbed it, folding it into his own, threading our fingers together. He grazed his lips over my knuckles.
Oh. Wow. Do that again. My insides swirled out of place and did things I’d only read about in my mother’s racy romance novels.
Really?! Let’s just ignore the disgusting cheese of that last statement – you literally just watched people die and you’re thinking about that? Is your heart shriveled and black?
And again, the cheesiness made things even worse, because there were things like this:
Did David just tell me he loves me? He loves me? David…loves me. David, Greek-god handsome…no…underwear model sexy…no…Greek-god underwear model sexy David loves me. Oh wow. There is going to be so much kissing!
First of all, if I wasn’t drowning in cheese I’d reach out and slap her so she could get a grip. Second of all, he told you he loves you and you’re thinking about how much you two are going to make out? Yeah, cuz that’s what love is. UGH.
View Spoiler »Another reason I didn’t feel the romance was because they didn’t act like they loved each other. There was no feeling (just like everything else in the book), and it was more of lust than love. Because they spent pages and pages doing nothing but make out, yet when it came down to it, they didn’t seem to actually ‘love’ each other.
When they found out they were going to be separated after leaving the PODs, there was little to no reaction. Again, no screaming or crying, just acceptance. Huh? Then, when Eva finds out that if David hadn’t left his compound in search for her, he could have been transferred to her compound anyway, she barely even seems to care.
“We would have worked together…lived in the same district. We could’ve had a life together.”
George reached out and awkwardly brushed a tear off my cheek. “I’m sorry, Eva.”
“Yeah, well, it is what it is.” And that’s the end of it. She didn’t even dwell on it. What the hell? How could you not be upset about that? Then, when they start sneaking around to see each other, David randomly decides it’s time to ‘cut losses and move on,’ because they know so little about each other and don’t even know if they could have a relationship outside of the POD. So you admit that you barely even know each other, even though you ‘love’ one another? Physical attraction does NOT equal love, guys. That’s called lust. « Hide Spoiler
Towards the end I started noticing this more than the beginning, but the characters constantly say each other’s names. What, like we’d forget what their names are or something? Every time they addressed each other, they used their names. It was SO annoying!
“I read your letters, Eva. I love you, too. And I want to be with you. I’ll wait. We’ll find a way to be together.”
“It’ll work out, David. I can feel it.”
“Eva, are you crazy?” he yelled, grabbing me in his arms.
“I can’t stay in there, David. Not without you.”
Who talks like that?! UGHHHH. We get it, guys. You have names. You know them. Good for you.
When they’re topside, they hear about a safe haven with survivors. But Eva doesn’t want to go, no, she’d rather just stay and hide like a coward. Wouldn’t you want to see if your parents survived? No matter how small the possibility?
“And you’d stay here and give up the chance at seeing your family again?”
“My family is dead. And it’s likely yours are, too. If the first wave of the virus didn’t kill them, the mutated strain did. If they lived through that, the infected have probably killed them by now.”
What the f*ck, dude. She really does have a withered black heart. Or none at all. I’m sorry but if it was me, I’d be looking for them, just in case. (But again, if it was me I probably wouldn’t have left them in the first place.) If you have no hope, what is left? Gawd. I couldn’t stand her.
All in all, the story was very rushed, and I feel like it should have been developed better and broken into two books. They were only in the PODs for about 100 pages of the book. That’s the title of the book, for crying out loud! Being back above ground should have been the sequel. Then there would have been more time to focus on the world building and flesh out the characters and the horrific romance.
Also, in the synopsis of the book we have this line: But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival and pray for a cure. There was little to no action, and basically no ‘fighting for survival.’ There was really only one part where the infected attacked. This book is NOT an action-filled dystopian story. It is a ‘ROMANCE.’ And a cheesy one at that. I want to make that clear to anyone who feels the need to read it.
Writing style: 1.5/5
Overall rating: 1/5