The Other Lifeby Susanne Winnacker
Sherry has lived with her family in a bunker for more than three years. Her grandfather's body has been in the freezer for the last six months, her parents are at each other's throats and two minutes ago, they ran out of food. Sherry and her father must leave the safety of the bunker. What they find is an empty Los Angeles, destroyed by bombs and haunted by Weepers
Sherry has lived with her family in a bunker for more than three years. Her grandfather's body has been in the freezer for the last six months, her parents are at each other's throats and two minutes ago, they ran out of food. Sherry and her father must leave the safety of the bunker. What they find is an empty Los Angeles, destroyed by bombs and haunted by Weepers—savage humans infected with a rabies virus. While searching for food, Sherry's father disappears and Sherry is saved by Joshua, a hunter. He takes her to Safe-haven, a vineyard where a handful of survivors are picking up the pieces of their other lives, before the virus changed everything. Sherry must find a way to help her family, stay alive, and decide whether Joshua is their savior or greatest danger as his desire for vengeance threatens them all. This debut novel is a page-turner that is not easy to forget.
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I didn't particularly enjoy this book at all. I don't know if it's just me being a bit burned out on the overdone zombie-type plot ideas with ridiculous teenage romance, but I just didn't feel it. I suppose what I was most disappointed about was the fact that the story started off with the main character, Sherry, counting down all the days she'd spent in the bunker, which was about 3 years. I was excited for some good psychological explorations, with how being cooped up with her family and having her grandfather in the freezer effected her, but there wasn't any of that. Basically, as soon as she gets out of the bunker, she goes off on a rescue mission, meets an older guy that makes her skin tingle just by touching her, and doesn't have any sort of issues at all. Actually, the author tries in a half-hearted fashion to give Sherry some interesting psychosocial issues, but they come off as odd quirks, and not even anything THAT odd. The rabies virus that affects people wasn't that exciting, or realistic. Apparently, it randomly mutated, and the infected people can either be normal-looking, or look like mangy wolf-like people. There's not really a reason for this, other than the author just liked the idea of wolfish people attacking other people. I say this because scientifically, it is impossible for a virus to cause genetic mutations that result in hairy people who are more like dogs than human, as well as cause brain degradation. No matter how cooky the invented virus is, it just won't happen, scientifically. I really tried to just suspend my belief of the facts, and go with that plot development, because it was somewhat unique, but in the end, it came off as a stupid, unrealistic idea that the author liked, but wasn't well-thought out or based in reality. The idea of Las Angeles being semi-destroyed, along with the rest of the northern hemisphere's larger cities, was interesting enough, but nothing new. Every post-apocalyptic book out there relies on the idea of showing well-known cities/landmarks being destroyed or changed completely, and Winneckar doesn't have strong enough plots going outside of that destruction for it to stand well enough on its own. The author is good with keeping suspense high through scenes and actions, though, so it's quick-paced and easy to read. No complaints there. Still, I wasn't convinced with the characters, and the goofy, giddy teenage romance thing between the older guy and younger girl. It's just been so overdone in teenage literature lately, I suppose I'm maxed on on the ridiculous romantic story lines with characters that don't stand well on their own. Sherry was a blase character, and so was Joshua. The author created some mystery surrounding Joshua's past, but he never seemed terribly realized, like the author was trying to give him angst that didn't fit. Short, quick read, with some sappy, unrealistic teenage romance and major stretching of scientific facts. Maybe I'd enjoy it more if I were 12, but I suppose that since I'm not, I was doomed to not enjoy the story from the beginning.
2.5 stars -- This novel sounded interesting. The concept of family being confined to bunkers because something went wrong reminded me of <i>Fallout 3</i> . The idea that Sherry’s family had just run out of food, and that she must venture up into a ruined world she left behind 3 years ago, one full of flesh-hungry mutants, sounded like it could provide plenty of thrills and action. However, despite its best intentions, <i>The Other Life</i> falls flat. The writing comes off as simplistic and uninteresting. I had trouble connecting with any of the characters. When Sherry comes out of the bunker for the first time, it doesn’t seem to affect her very much. In fact, she doesn’t seem very affected by the discovery of the wasteland that used to be her hometown, either. Since the protagonist lacks depth, it is no surprise that the secondary characters are also shallow and one-dimensional. For a novel that seems advertised as a horror/dystopian novel, little time is spent around the Weepers or focusing on what’s been lost. Thus, <i>The Other Life</i> loses its chance to bring in terror and feelings of regret, loss, adjustment. Most of the feelings in this novel are devoted to the quick-to-develop relationship between Sherry and Joshua. Like the rest of this book, their relationship feels a bit hollow. Because it developed over the course of a mere few days, to me it lacks depth and meaning. The strongest thing this novel has going for it is the twist revealed at the end, but unfortunately, the twist is just setting us up for the sequel — we don’t see it come into play here. However, since I didn’t enjoy <i>The Other Life</i> very much (if it were much longer, I’m not sure I would have finished it), I don’t think I will be moving on to the next installment. If you like dystopian novels that are primarily about romance, and don’t mind a simple writing style that lacks depth, you may want to give <i>The Other Life</i> a chance. The plot was interesting, I just felt like it failed to live up to its potential.