**Review is of audio version listened to on a Playaway audio device**
Deuce has finally achieved her goal – to go from unnamed “Brat” to Huntress, part of a group who defends the enclave in which she lives from the threat of zombie “Freaks” and provides them with meat. When she is paired up with Fade, a mysterious boy who was born outside the enclave, her life quickly changes in ways she never imagined.
I noticed or was reminded of a lot of things about my reading habits while I was listening to this book. First of all, I read a lot of zombie fiction. Not surprising and I regret nothing. I like what I like. Second of all, I have a tendency to picture YA characters older than they actually are, I guess because I’m not a teenager myself. Anyway, I didn’t picture Deuce as 15. And to be fair, she was much older than her years – everyone raised in the enclave seemed to be. Still, I was picturing her more in her 20s. Thirdly, I would definitely be a troublemaker if I was ever required to live in a post-apocalyptic society. Their rules almost invariably suck and I know I’d have a hard time following them. I’d likely be cast out or leave on my own. Seriously, a group actually called Breeders? And they’re ok with this? And even worse, in this case, the Breeders shoot two kids out the chute – who are immediately whisked away to be raised by the community – and then are relegated to a life of manual labor. Nice lifestyle choice, there. It seems like you’d be better off outside this particular enclave anyway. Too much scheming among the elders. It seems like in post-apocalyptic stories, new leadership is rarely better than old leadership.
I liked the narrator. I felt like she did a really good job capturing the various voices of the characters, including the male ones. They sounded deeper but not comical the way some female narrators do when voicing male characters.
I initially found it difficult to like Deuce and Fade. There’s a hardness to them that is understandable and not surprising, but it took me a while to warm up to them. Truthfully growing up in the type of environment that they were raised in would make any level of humanity an accomplishment, and the two of them had quite a bit more humanity in them than many of their “elders” (none of whom were especially old, life span seemed to be less than 30 years). These are people who “get rid of” undesirables like the handicapped who can’t pull their own weight. And while it’s a pragmatic decision – using the limited resources to feed those who can contribute – it’s also an awful and heartless one. People have basically become high-functioning, hygienic ferals.
I did find Deuce to be a layered character. She’s tough and proud, but also caring and she feels genuinely uncomfortable with the way people are treated as disposable in her society. I really liked Fade and his loyalty. He kind of reminded me of Four from Divergent or Day from Legend. He’s tough but vulnerable in some ways.
The next bits may be somewhat spoilery – no specifics but if you haven’t read the book you might want to skip them…
I thought it added dimension to this book that the Freaks seemed to be evolving. I also wonder why their bite doesn’t seem to cause infection, and since it doesn’t, how the Freaks came about in the first place. Also, one of the few things that bothered me about Deuce was how forgiving she was toward Stalker. She even seems to be somewhat attracted to him at times. Even putting aside his horrific past (including kidnapping, rape, and other fun things) he was still a dick to Teagan and had a general piss poor attitude about women. I find it hard to believe that someone like Deuce would be ok with that, even if he respects her because of her abilities to hunt and provide.
I thought the ending was somewhat anti-climactic but I’m still really looking forward to the next book. I don’t mind that it didn’t end on a huge cliffhanger.