"He's still out there."
Sam wagged his tail.
"What do you think he wants?" Carly asked Sam as she let the curtains fall closed. "Never mind. I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that question because it's probably nothing good."
It had been a week since Bike Guy appeared and set up camp on the sidewalk across the street from her apartment building. He was the first healthy person she's seen in weeks. At first she wasn't sure. His behavior was odd enough to make her think he was one of the Infected. Why would he set up a tent across from her apartment building when there was a motel right down the street? It made no sense. He would wave at her and smile cheerfully whenever Carly peeked through the curtains. He would be reading, cleaning a gun, or cooking over the fire he had built on the sidewalk, but as soon as she looked out the window, his head would snap up and he would stare right at her, as if he has some sort of weird sixth sense about when she was looking.
You know when you are hungry but nothing is quite satisfying until you find the thing you crave and then it is sooo good? Well I was having a craving for a certain kind of book. I wanted a story of survival, but not another dystopian novel nor anything young adult. I wasn't sure if I wanted something apocolytpic since these days that is almost always a zombie novel or dystopian with an oppressive government. A lot of times when I want this survival story I read historical fiction, particularly those set during the Holocaust. But I wanted something modern day. Then I took a look at Netgalley and I noticed that The End of All Things was again available. It was a book that I was interested in before, but never got around to reading. So I jumped as this chance.
And the story didn't disappoint. It was so satisfying. The End of All Things was exactly what I was looking for.
There has been a world-wide pandemic and only a few did not contract it. Of those that did, no one survived. Carly has been camped out in her apartment since her parents died. She believes the world will soon return to normal, but for now she is running out of the food and she has a growing puppy. But the appearance of 'Biker Guy' has unnerved her. Men in desperate times take desperate measures. But Biker Guy, or Justin, means her no harm. Actually he saves her when she finally does venture out to the store and is attacked by an Infected.
Justin knows the world will not right itself anytime soon and Juneau is not a place to be with winter coming. But after finding the sole remaining survivor, he can't leave her behind. She will not survive on her own. So he must find a way to win her trust, which probably wouldn't have been easy before the Infection and now possibly impossible. But he can't leave her.
Eventually Carly must face reality and with it comes trusting Justin. With their new alliance firmly in place they make plans to head south. Thankfully Justin is more than special forces, he was trained in a shadow Unit. Because Carly has no survival skills, except for hope and optimism, both of which Justin lacks. She also is a strong woman and fast learner.
I really liked the relationship between Carly and Justin. They were both relatable characters that reacted as real people in their situation. Most of the book is it just the two of them and the animals Carly manages to collect - Sam the wolf and Shadowfax the horse. Most mammals it appears to have been affected by the virus as well. The character building is great since it is mostly just the two of them on a long bike ride through Canada and northern US. You would have thought this was boring, and with flatter characters it would have been. But Bryan has created rich characters.
And the plot is plausible. A weaponized virus has been unleashed. One so wide spread and deadly makes me wonder who would have released it, but larger world politics is not the focus of the story. Though Carly has her theories and wants answers to why her pleasant little world has been turned upside down.
In most romance novels, the "last man and woman" (they aren't really the only people to survive) would fall madly in love for the get go. Thankfully, Bryan doesn't rush the relationship. There's caution from both Carly and Justin. She's not sure what to think of Justin and Justin is afraid Carly will only want him out of desperation or because of the trauma of her world falling apart.
The best part of the story is the strong human spirit. One of the reasons I love reading about oppressive societies, damaged teens, and stories of survival is because of the human spirit that arises when their "back is against the wall". But it wasn't over the top, and we encounter characters that are desperate, depressed, and in denial. There are also those that prey upon the weak. The whole gamut of personality types are on display.
I loved The End of All Things and was so happy that I could go right to the second book, The Land of Shadow. I had trouble putting down this series and read it very quickly. If you are looking for a well written, character driven story of survival, then look no further than The End of All Things by Lissa Bryan.
Buy The End of All Things at Amazon
available formats: ebook and paperback (251 pages)
published: January 2013 by The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House
genres: romance, post-apocalyptic
target audience: adult
read: February 2015
Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. A free egalley was provided for this review.