*I received a free copy of this ebook, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
RECIPIENT OF THE B.R.A.G. MEDALLION
Blurb: Kerryl Shaw survives a deadly disease, but can she endure the loneliness that follows?
A fatal virus ravages Kerryl’s community, wiping out her friends and family. Left on her own, it isn’t long before she starts to lose her grip on reality. She’s convinced that she, too, will soon fall prey to the infection, and decides to record in a diary what she thinks will be her last days. She imagines a reader, and calls him Adam. As the empty days pass, Adam becomes increasingly real to her until his presence dominates her life and she becomes emotionally obsessed by him. She is elated when she receives what she thinks is an invitation from him to a date at a local beauty spot, and sets out across the moor to meet Adam, and her fate.
The truth is blurred in this captivating psychological thriller, which saves its final suprise until a twist at the very end.
Paradise Girl is an apocalyptic survival tale about a lone teenaged girl in the aftermath of a devastatingly fatal infection.
We get the majority of the tale in Kerryl’s own words, via two journals; one telling the tale of life before and during the onset of the infection, and the other charting – diary-style – her daily life since the world ended.
Kerryl’s voice is distinct and we really get to know her very quickly through her narrative of events, although it is clear that she is an unreliable narrator, bound by her lack of clear information as to what is going on. She is more of a survivor than an investigator, and the focus of the plot is on her hunkering down and just getting on with what is in front of her.
Unfortunately for her, that is a wide expanse of aching loneliness. Phill Featherstone captures a creeping horror here as we helplessly witness the toll of complete isolation on the human mind. Never has it been more evident what a social animal man is, as when witnessing the swift decline that occurs when all other needs bar that one are met.
Kerryl’s tale also bears out an interconnectedness between story and reader, watcher and watched, as she begins to address her imagined audience directly which starts to bear some unexpected and unsettling results.
The ending twists and turns with some final surprises and leaves enough unanswered threads to whet the reader’s appetite thoroughly for more of the story. Luckily the contemporaneously set sequel is out in a few short weeks so there isn’t long to wait!
This is a thoughtful, non-ghoulish exploration of post-viral apocalyptic survival from a very human perspective, that I can recommend for teens upwards.
The diaries I used to write didn’t just record things that happened to me. I used them to help me work stuff out, and to say things I couldn’t share with anybody, not even Josie, and certainly not with Lander. This diary is different though. It’s different from anything I’ve ever written before.
Because I know I’m going to die.
Because the people I lived with – Gran, Granddad and our Mam – are already dead. So are all my friends and so is everybody else. And if Lander’s not dead he might as well be.
Am I scared? The crazy (but true) answer is, ‘I don’t know’. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night feeling that something is eating me from the inside. I have to get up then, because going back to sleep is out of the question. But most of the time in the daylight, it doesn’t seem real, even now, and I just get on with things. I can’t believe that it won’t all come right again, that life won’t get back to normal. I mean, they’ll sort it out. Won’t they?
– Phill Featherstone, Paradise Girl