22 May 2013

Review: White Horse by Alex Adams

White Horse (White Horse #1) by Alex Adams

Published: 17 April 2012 by Atria

Pages: 306 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Post-apocalyptic

Source: Own library

Synopsis


Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the President of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are not defined by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places.

My Thoughts

For quite a few weeks I've been avoiding YA post-apocalyptic and dystopians - I think I've OD'ed a little and they all feel similar - love triangles, mediocre world-building and there is apparently something very wrong about writing stand-alone novels.  So I decided I would turn things on it's head a little and read a (very) adult post-apocalyptic that was originally intended to be a stand-alone.

White Horse is split into Then and Now, which I'm usually comfortable with, as long as the book doesn't lose pace because of it, and I'm happy to say that doesn't happen in White Horse.   The Then is mainly focused on the gradual apocalypse happening on everyone's doorstep but never specifically labelled, and the Now, where Zoe finds herself travelling across Italy and Greece to try and find her boyfriend.

Whilst the shock value is definitely there, there isn't ever a real explanation of what the apocalyptic event is other than what Zoe stumbles upon as the world disintegrates.   Normally this would bug the hell out of me, but in White Horse it works because it is true to the feel of the book itself.  There are a lot of hints at what possibly could be the catalyst, characters that have been affected in very different and disturbing ways, and quite a few mysteries that are either half resolved or just left hanging.  

Zoe's interactions with other characters range from instant bonding to awkward, and she seems lost and confused for quite a lot of the book.  Nevertheless I found her an easy character to connect with because she isn't an instant action hero, helpless bimbo or overly emotional.  There are many other characters, most appearing fleetingly and some dying pretty gruesome deaths, and whilst some are memorable, others are very difficult to like or sympathise with.

When I purchased White Horse, it was listed as a stand-alone, but a sequel is now in the works, and I'm not quite sure how I feel about that.  Although the ending doesn't resolve everything, it felt like a natural ending to the story and that everything that came after was left up to my imagination, but knowing there is a second book just makes the ending feel far too rushed without making me want to stalk the next book on release day.

I feel like I'm being incredibly negative, but I actually really liked this book - I enjoyed the juxtaposition between the dreamy pace and language and the dirty side of humanity, I liked that the amount of world-building was appropriate to the main characters reactions and level of interest, that the characters don't fall into stereotypes and there wasn't even a sniff of a love triangle.

15 comments:

  1. I'm with you on the stand alones. I LOVE series but it has become such a trend and a lot of stories suck hard because they should have stopped at book one. I've been interested in White Horse for some time, so I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it.

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    1. I enjoy series, but I get so bored of waiting for the next book and then I can't remember what happened in the last one!

      I liked White Horse perhaps a little more than came through in my review - it's very bleak but a definite page turner.

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  2. I read White Horse back in February and loved it. I'm actually happy it is being made into a series. I had just a few to many unresolved questions at the end. While those questions weren't all that big they still probably would've ended up bugging me. Great review. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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    1. I didn't mind the ending - sometimes I like books that leave it a bit open so I can imagine for myself what happens :) It will be interesting to see where Red Horse goes!

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  3. GAH! You tried to step away and read a standalone and they made it NOT a standalone. I tell ya, EVERYTHING is a series these days, it's starting to get super annoying. I like the realism you describe here and how the MC's relationships with everyone she meets are drastically different. Happy you enjoyed this one overall, Kat!

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    1. Luckily this is probably one that you don't NEED to read the next book unless you really want to - but I was a bit surprised that it was suddenly a series!

      It's definitely a dark story!

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  4. It is so totally annoying that everything turns into a series. I've even had discussins with authors commending them on stand alones and then seeing them turn into a series:( That said...I'm pretty excited to make time for this title.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean - it's harder and harder to find stand alones!

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  5. I love post-apocalyptic novels (I prefer adult of YA, though) and this one is on my wishlist. I don't mind a series if it's not really written like that. Worse is, a series that is planned in advance and they leave a lot open at the end of the first book, so you are forced to read the next one to resolve the story. That IS annoying!

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    1. This is definitely adult PA, and I tend to like them more than YA PA, but as long as the world is ending I'm good ;)

      Cliffhangers are evil!

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    2. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. There's a right and wrong way to create anticipation and leave readers wanting more (actually there are probably lots of right and wrong ways). I read an ebook recently that did it so poorly I wondered if I'd accidentally downloaded an incomplete file. Ugh.

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  6. Me too. Much as I'm all about dystopias/post-apocs, we need a break. They do feel pretty cookie cutter at this point and I'm sick of it. Adult ones might be an exception, though, since they tend to be less OMG ROMANCE.

    Bleh, if it's a series, I want to know up front!

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    1. I'm still good on adult PA, they are far more open to shock value and any romances tend to be far more realistic (despite the fact that Zoe travelled from the US to Greece to find her bloke!).

      Ditto - I won't necessarily avoid a book if its a series, but I want to be informed.

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  7. Sounds really interesting. Adding to my TBR.

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  8. When I read it in 2012, I knew it was the first of a series. Maybe with the new marketing it is less clear. Maybe the new cover, and new marketing means the sequel is out soon. As I recall the publisher has an advance they want to earn back.

    I don't think this was intended originally as YA. Was it? The protagonist is pretty ancient by YA standards.

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