I saw this book reviewed by Debbie @ The Reading Frenzy blog and it sounded fantastic. Imagine my thrill when I won an audio copy of this intense and intriguing YA Dystopian.
The world of this story is in our future after a plague hits the world and decimates the population only to return every twenty years or so. Old government and society falls only for new city-state governments to take over in certain parts of the world and the rest left to become The Wilds where might tends to make right. The plague kills most of those infected, but a rare few survived and are known as Plaguers. These people are reviled and thought to be carriers and lose their minds. But unknown to most, plaguers are no longer infectious and are not crazy. Plaguers gain some psychic skills and have the ability to see another kind of non-human that looks human and walks among them- the Dark Walkers.
The story opens with Dahlia an eighteen year old girl who was institutionalized at four years old by her own parents. Inside the institution built to contain plaguers and others with mental issues, she grows up learning to be tough physically and mentally because a dark walker is in charge there and Dahlia is subject to her psychotic and sadistic whims. Dahlia must hold strong and never crack under the pressure. She has made her plans of escape for her and her friends, but it will not be easy and she must wait her chance for the conditions to be right.
But suddenly out of the blue a stranger breaks in and whisks her away. Dahlia does not trust this Dak and his other companions who take her into the Wilds. Dak has an agenda and apparently he needs a plaguer to accomplish it. Dahlia goes along with his plans because it is where she wants to be until he reveals that he wants her to identify Dark Walkers. That’s when a new game of mental tug of war begins and Dahlia must get back to her own plans to rescue her friends while keeping from fulfilling her part of the bargain to Dak. Something is up with him. She is intrigued, but he is a tough one to get around. He is cold and determined on his path and she must learn to have that sort of strength to survive in the Wilds.
Alright, this was an exciting blend of dystopian, intrigue, and the whiff of a romance starting up. I loved how the world is built and the characters are set up. Dak is a mystery all of his own as is what is so special about Dahlia’s plaguer abilities. Even by the end of this first book, not everything is out in the open though good gravy that big reveal right at the end was a huge tease if not an actual cliff hanger.
I got vested in Dahlia’s story early on. She has suffered and survived a great deal, but once she is free, she still has a whole lot to learn. She is arrogant and gutsy. She is so excited to be free and determined to really live that she makes impetuous decisions that aren’t very bright, but come from a good place. Slowly she learns from her mistakes and as she trusts Dak and the others to teach her. Dak is such an enigma, but he tends to keep too much to himself and that is what drives Dahlia crazy. He expects trust and her to share, but doesn’t reciprocate.
I found the tension and pacing worked well keeping me right in this story. I didn’t want to stop listening.
And yes, it was well narrated by Angel Clark. Her Dahlia voice was spot on. I liked how she told the story and infused emotion without overdoing it. She did pacing and tone so well that I was seeing this story well.
All in all this was great and I can’t wait to continue on to see what comes next for Dahlia and the rest of the survivors there in the Wilds.
Romance Roundabout #235 YA
New to Me #97 author/series
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