Wow, I don’t even know how to start this review. This was what I initially posted on Goodreads after finishing:
“I feel like I should be annoyed that I don’t even really know what happened for a good portion of the book, but instead I kind of just feel like laughing and crying at the same time. Is it normal to feel that way after finishing a book? How on earth am I ever going to write an actual review for this?”
And you know what? I still don’t know how to write an actual review for this, but I’m gonna try.
First of all, though there were some zombies, this was not a zombie book. It was an after-the-zombies-have-mostly-gone book. It was a people-are-the-real-monsters book. It was a psychological-mindfuck book. It was an exploration-of-a-character’s-inner-demons book.
You see, Noah was a legitimately flawed and messed up character… but I just so happen to love flawed and messed up characters. I mean, he wasn’t a bad person, he cared about people, etc., but sometimes he did things that no one in their right mind would do, like calmly and unemotionally taking a shower while someone he knew was dead in the next room—and that was before the apocalypse, when dead bodies weren’t even a normal thing. But that’s just it, I guess, he wasn’t in his right mind. Even then, he was struggling with alcoholism, obsession, maybe even delusion, and who knows what other psychological problems. And, not surprisingly, the apocalypse didn’t magically make those struggles go away. So he may not have always been the best person, but he was still someone I could empathize with, and he was fascinating to read about. I will admit it was a little strange how introspective and self-aware Noah was, but it just kind of worked, especially since, for much of the book, Noah was alone and his thoughts were really all the reader had. The way it was written put me really deep in his mind, so I was ok with it.
Not only that, Noah’s psychological downward spiral, his descent into a booze/drug-induced stupor, was written amazingly well in a way that really portrayed the situation and also made me feel for him. He became a rather unreliable narrator as well, considering the haze he was living in and the constant blackouts.
Noah’s downward spiral was also where the mindfuck part of the book came into play. Generally, I’m not a fan of those types of books in which I don’t know what’s real and what’s not, and I would’ve liked to get answers to a few specific questions at the end. While it was happening though, I was completely intrigued—confused, but intrigued. That scene portrayed on the cover? It’s actually in the book, purple sky and everything. So that should give you some indication of how surreal things get as the book progresses. And eventually you will reach this point in which you stop and think, he’s finally cracked, this can’t be real… but you still won’t be sure. The author gives a little info in the afterword though, so there’s at least a definitive point up until which things happened as described and a definitive ending. Well, kind of. I guess you never really know, but I felt like I got closure.
Ultimately though, this book made me feel, and I can forgive a certain amount of grievances for that. It was dark, emotional, unsettling, and intense, and when I finished, I felt emotionally overwhelmed and not sure how to even process everything I’d read. But when a book can make me feel that way, I definitely consider it a good thing, so I couldn’t be more glad I decided to give this book a read!
Anyone who wants to read something dark, emotional, and unsettling. Anyone who likes psychological books that mess with your head, extremely flawed characters, and heavy topics such as alcoholism.