on September 5th 2017
Genres: adult, dystopia, science fiction, Dystopian
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In the spirit of Station Eleven and California, award-winning novelist Holly Goddard Jones offers a literary spin on the dystopian genre with this gripping story of survival and humanity about a group of adrenaline junkies who jump -the Salt Line.-
How far will they go for their freedom--once they decide what freedom really means?
In an unspecified future, the United States' borders have receded behind a salt line--a ring of scorched earth that protects its citizens from deadly disease-carrying ticks. Those within the zone live safe, if limited, lives in a society controlled by a common fear. Few have any reason to venture out of zone, except for the adrenaline junkies who pay a fortune to tour what's left of nature. Those among the latest expedition include a popstar and his girlfriend, Edie; the tech giant Wes; and Marta; a seemingly simple housewife.
Once out of zone, the group find themselves at the mercy of deadly ticks--and at the center of a murderous plot. They become captives in Ruby City, a community made up of outer-zone survivors determined to protect their hardscrabble existence. As alliances and friendships shift amongst the hostages, Edie, Wes, and Marta must decide how far they are willing to go to get to the right side of the salt line.
I don’t give 5 stars easily, but this book deserved every one of them. It was memorable, terrifying, and one of the most tense novels I have ever read. Maybe I should give it 4.5 stars because the pacing had a few issues early on with bad placement of flashbacks, but I can’t justify it. This book was really that good. Why?
~Killer world-building. Figuratively and literally. Those ticks will kill you, but the book is about so much more than just killer ticks. It’s a rich world with depth.
~Flawed but lovable characters. I adored Marta and Wes. I definitely wanted more from them because there were several POVs and some I adored more than others, but even the characters that were considered antagonists had reasonable motivations and it made you feel for them. I was seriously impressed by the depth of the characters considering how many there were.
~The suspense. I could have chewed my nails off. This book was full of conflict and twists and turns even I couldn’t see coming. I was blown away by almost every moment in this book. There was never a time when it didn’t keep me guessing.
I’m not sure yet if this will be my favorite book of 2017 as it’s still the first half of the year, but it’s definitely my favorite thus far and will be in the running all year long. Please, PLEASE give this book a chance. It’s original and about so much more than killer ticks, but guys, even that part is SO. WELL. DONE. This book caught me by surprise. I expected a gory mess of a thriller that I would possibly enjoy, and I got that, but I also got a book about relationships and sacrifices when lives are on the line. It’s character-driven AND plot-driven, and what it is is wonderful.
ETA: I do not think this book is a standalone. It does not end on a cliffhanger, but the ending is very open ended and basically opens an intriguing new storyline. I actually loved the ending but it gave me anxiety only because I want the next book now, and there has to be a next book. It cannot end like that.