Release Date: August 26, 2015
Publisher: Full Fathom Five
Genre: YA Post-Apocolyptic
Mother Nature is pissed. Few will survive. Jackie is loving her last year of summer camp, despite new-guy Xander, jerk extraordinaire. That is, until disaster strikes on the senior backpacking trip. At first, it seems like a nightmare, but Jackie quickly realizes that the huge fire and resulting carnage around her are as real as real gets.
Miraculously (and infuriatingly, in Jackie’s opinion), Xander survives the burning, too, but that’s the least of her worries. Mother Nature has wiped out millions and burned cities to the ground, plants are growing at a crazy-rapid rate, and fairytale creatures are very real—and very dangerous. Jackie and Xander must learn to survive sans food, shelter, and soap, and battle their way across the wild American landscape in search of their families—all without killing each other. Along the way, the duo learns that maybe the other isn’t so terrible after all.
This story was a big surprise to me. I went into it thinking it would be a certain type of story... a post-apocolyptic tale with two survivers that hate each other who fall in love inexplicably just because. For the most part, I was right... but only on the good parts of the above. The cliche I thought I would find wasn't there and I was pleasantly surprised by how the author handled the romance, and some other, very interesting elements that I wasn't expecting.
I loved the concept behind this story... that mother nature, or let's say the earth itself, has risen up against misuse and has decided to do something to correct the wrongs done to it. You kind of have to suspend disbelief and think of it as a thinking being that was able to take independent action, think of a plan and execute it to get rid of anyone it felt wasn't a friend of the earth. When the characters are first introduced, they're all at a co-ed summer camp, but break off on their own to camp in separate areas. Jackie wakes up to find herself floating in the air while her campsite and everyone in it, burns. For a while she's on her own and learning to survive, and I really loved watching her learn survival skills from an unexpected character, and I love how strong she grew.
I admit, at first, I hated Xander just as much as Jackie did because he came across as a big jerk. Very arrogant. But I guess there must be something about being a survivor of your camp mates burning to death that changes you. Not completely, but a bit. These two meet up and discover the other survived, and this is when things get interesting. They did have a hate relationship at first, but I loved watching how the author maneuvered them through this and gradually worked them into friends, co-survivors and finally into romance. It was very well done, and I loved watching it.
Something really unexpected to this story was that there was a touch of fantasy to it. Bubbles you can pop that will cause different trees and fruit-bearing trees to grow on the spot, unicorns, etc. This made this really different than your run of the mill end-of-the-world story. I loved this aspect and thought it was new, fascinating, and refreshing.
I loved the author's writing, the pacing of the story, and the character growth. Both characters went from pampered to powerful, cocky to kind and honorable. It was a great journey. If I had any complaints, it would be that the ending felt a little rushed to me, but not enough to ruin the story for me. A very good read!