*I received a free copy of this ebook, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: A deadly virus ravages the country. 17 year-old Lander Shaw thinks he has escaped. However, he hears that the virus has a terrible side-effect which could put his family in danger.
To protect them he leaves his home and begins a journey to learn the truth. On the way he comes across both the best and the worst of humanity. He is imprisoned, freed, enslaved, escapes, and in the process meets the mysterious Magda, who somehow knows more about him than he’s told her and has plans of her own.
He returns home to re-unite with his twin sister, Kerryl, but finds she has been the victim of a deadly experiment. He determines to confront those responsible, but instead finds he has to make another choice. It’s his most difficult yet, and what he decides will affect the future of everyone.
It has been a little while since I read Phill Featherstone’s Paradise Girl, so while I remembered the gist of that story, I had forgotten the details and the ending. This actually stood me in really good stead as it meant I could read Aftershocks with fresh eyes and still get the emotional impact from events as they unfolded.
The two books are companions to each other, telling the same story from two different perspectives; brother and sister, Lander and Kerryl. Whilst the overall events of the Infection and its aftermath are the same in both stories, the actual stories are very different. Kerryl’s story was a highly-claustrophobic tale of apocalyptic survival; depicting the effect of acute isolation on the human psyche.
Lander’s story is still one of survival in the face of societal collapse, but is much more proactive, as he sets out on a journey for answers to what has happened and what will happen next. In fact, a large proportion of this book is Lander travelling back and forth, attempting to find a point or purpose without clear direction. He is pretty easily sidetracked from his planned goals and its clear that it is not lack of interaction, but lack of structure, that is stymieing his progress. That, and he spends a lot of time getting captured and having to escape!
I was increasingly intrigued by the sub-plot behind why certain people were able to survive the Infection while the majority succumbed, and the side effects that the survivors then struggled with as a result, and I was invested throughout in Lander’s quest for answers to these issues. I felt a little let down towards the end, as the climactic reveal seemed lacking in any logic (the motives, once explained, are quite bizarre!), and then after such a long build-up, and extreme ‘solution’, the final few pages seemed rather anti-climactic. I could definitely see the potential for a third book that takes the plot forward with the siblings threads now unified and provides some satisfying resolution to the issues explored.
Read alone, or in conjunction with Paradise Girl, Aftershocks is a fascinating apocalyptic survival story for young adults. You may be left wanting more!
He lay still. He couldn’t risk leaving the house until he was sure his grandparents were asleep. They had been talking downstairs for so long he wondered if they were ever going to bed. Their voices had been too muffled for him to hear what they were saying, but he could guess. It would be about the Infection. That’s the only thing anybody every talked about now. What else was there?
– Phill Featherstone, Aftershocks