Title: Red Hill
Author: Jamie McGuire
Genre: Science fiction, zombie fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program
Audiobook reader: Emma Galvin, January LaVoy, and Zachary Webber
Audiobook length: 9 hours and 38 minutes
First line: The warning was short – said almost in passing.
Goodreads blurb: For Scarlet, raising her two daughters alone makes fighting for tomorrow an everyday battle. Nathan has a wife, but can’t remember what it’s like to be in love; only his young daughter Zoe makes coming home worthwhile. Miranda’s biggest concern is whether her new VW Bug is big enough to carry her sister and their boyfriends on a weekend escape from college finals.
When reports of a widespread, deadly “outbreak” begin to surface, these ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances and suddenly their fates are intertwined. Recognizing they can’t outrun the danger, Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda desperately seek shelter at the same secluded ranch, Red Hill. Emotions run high while old and new relationships are tested in the face of a terrifying enemy—an enemy who no longer remembers what it’s like to be human.
Set against the backdrop of a brilliantly realized apocalyptic world, love somehow finds a way to survive. But what happens when the one you’d die for becomes the one who could destroy you?
I sort zombie fiction into two types of books: the ones where it’s all about the zombies, and the ones where it’s all about the people, who just happen to be thrown into a zombie apocalypse. Biggest difference is the character development. I prefer the latter type, just in case you were wondering, and so Red Hill was a perfect choice to fill the lack of zombies in my reading this year.
This book really is about the people, and who they are, and because of who they are, the choices they make when faced with a deadly zombie virus. I loved the characters who narrate our story: Nathan, whose wife had emotionally abandoned her marriage years earlier, and finally made the leap to physical abandonment – on the morning of the outbreak; Miranda, a college student who is comfortable in her skin and her life and her no-thrills relationship; and Scarlet, a single mom whose separation from her children during the outbreak made for some of the most heart-rending chapters. I loved each of their stories separately, and I loved them even more when the three stories eventually came together.
There is a lot of romance in this book, but not of the fluffy, fluttering heart variety. This is the type of book that explores what a relationship would look like if you were one of the last people on earth. What becomes important? Who do you want with you when you know you could die at any moment?
Of course, part of the fantastic experience of listening to this book is due to the narrators. All three were new to me, but all three were really good. I did have a bit of trouble with Emma Galvin when she did male voices, but it didn’t detract too much. And I am currently listening to another book read by January LaVoy (The Diviners by Libba Bray), and she is becoming a favorite.