THEN: Zoe leads a fairly ordinary life that has had it share of hardships that she is struggling to get past. She is currently working at Pope Pharmaceuticals cleaning the floors and cages as it mundane work that keeps her busy. One day a strange container finds it way into her house, and she gets the feeling that will change everything in her life but does not know why.
NOW: Zoe is struggling to survive in this new world where the humans are on the endangered species list, and there is not much hope of their survival. The disease known as White Horse has killed most of the world population and the majority of those who have not died have mutated into strange creature that now hunt the humans that still live. Zoe is traveling to her one last place of Hope a remote village in Greece, it is what she lives for, but things in the world have changed too much that there is no longer a place for hope.
Travel with Zoe through her THEN and NOW experiences where the world changes around her and when everyone she loves dies, she struggles with keeping her own humanity when faced against people who have lost theirs and keeping her own Hope for life alive.
I was completely engrossed with this book, I did not want to put it down, the story and characters just drew me in from the very beginning (though the the writing style takes a bit to get used to). However, I will be the first to say that this book is not for everyone. It shows the a darker side of humanity when the world is falling apart and people do what they feel they need to to survive, which does not always mean the right, sane, practical or human thing todo. This book is dark, gritty and disturbing with the events that unfold as well as the interaction between the characters. I think that Adams does a great job of setting the tone of the book within the first chapters and that you know going into the book that there are going to be some aspect that you will find disturbing and you may want/need to put it down.
I enjoyed Zoe as a character the reader becomes invested in her as each event unfold both in the "Now" and "Then" segments within the book. You want her to succeed but there really is part of me that for awhile wondered if everything truly was in her head, the jar, the war, the end of the world (or as she liked to say the sky is falling). However, as the story progresses you realize that for all of Zoe's paranoia she has been her protection. You really get invested in Zoe as you learn more and more of her story as well as her never ending will to try to protect what is left of her own humanity.
The world develops as Adams transfers back and forth between Zoe's Then and Now times in her life and it was an adjustment to get used to it. However, I like the two different worlds that Adams was able to set up within one book. People who do not like reading books where the time period changes will not enjoy this book as it goes back and forth between "Now" and "Then" constantly throughout the book, sometimes only after a paragraph has been written. I was surprised that this was the format that Adams chose to write her novel in, but I personally think that it fit the story-line.
I think that there are a few aspects where Adams missed the mark. The new creatures that have developed because of the White Horse disease are never really fully explained or that there were different "types" of them. These creatures play a fairly big part in the book especially near the end and I was confused why there were differences between what they were like at the beginning and what they were like at the end and why this was never really explained. Additionally, the ending was a little too neat and cookie cutter for me. I was hoping Adams would maintain the darkness throughout the book even to the end, but I understand the need for some joy in Zoe's life and maybe just the need to wrap up the story, I am unsure.
This book pulled me right in from the beginning and has set a new standard for dystopia type novels for me. Adams keeps the fine line between the darkness and light, but even that is flirted with regularly, therefore, as stated above this book is not for everyone, only for those who are venture into the darkness every now and then.
Note: Please be aware, that within this novel there are depictions of violence, rape and sexual abuse of a teenager, and these events are not just hinted at, in some of the situations they are described.