Awakening in a bleak landscape as scarred as her body, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls surviving something terrible. Wearing unfamiliar clothes and having no idea how many days—or weeks—have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: Ruthie has vanished.
And with her, nearly all of civilization. Where once-lush hills carried cars and commerce, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters—people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong.
In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get her Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider, let alone a woman who became a zombie and somehow turned back, but she finds help from an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. Smoke is her savior, and her safety. For the Beaters are out there. And the humans grip at survival with their trigger fingers. Especially when they learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, of weapons in a brave new world....
Every once in a while, a book comes a long that you read and read until it feels like your eyes are about to burn out of your head, but you still continue to read. You continue to read because you can't wait any longer to see what will happen next. That is what this book was for me. Too incredible for words.
Aftertime is the name of the time after the modern civilization as we know is gone. Now the world (well just the West side, seemingly) has been taken over by zombies. We are immediately put in our heroine's, Cass Dollar, shoes. We find out that she has been walking for the longest time after just waking up from an attack, not just any attack, a zombie attack (they are known as Beaters, by the way). Cass is confused, of course. She has been attacked, but has no idea why she is not a Beater. She doesn't remember much and you can't blame her, I wouldn't want to remember wither. That doesn't matter to her though. What does matter, is her daughter Ruthie, who was also attacked by Beaters and taken away. Thing is, she has no idea where her baby girl is because it has been two months.
Cass is then almost attacked by a girl who mistakes Cass for a Beater. Signs of a Beater: shreds of skin missing (literally, they rip shreds from you skin), shiny eyes and hair that has been pulled out by the chunks. So after taken down the girl, she walks them to a school that has been used as a shelter for survivors. We are then introduced to Smoke, who helps and protects Cass throughout this story. He first and foremost lends his help on the journey to find Ruthie. Smoke is quite mysterious and overtime we learn that his past is not as squeaky clean as others think, but he does what is right.
I don't want to give so much a way because after they leave the school, the things that happen are insane. But this is not a book about zombies. This book is about a woman who has lost her child and even though she isn't perfect, she knows that she has to at least know her girl is alive. Cass feels responsible for all that has happened and can't live without knowing where Ruthie is. Cass is a former alcoholic who sleeps around to escape her life and the only good thing she had, Ruthie, was stolen from her. This book will send you on an emotional rollercoaster. It is full of horror, sadness, joy, anger. All the things you would expect to feel after just surviving the apocalypse.
It is so nice to read a book like this from a woman. I am not complaining mind you, but the world of zombies has almost been reserved for men. Aftertime is about so much more than survival. This book is about a flawed and tortured woman looking to get her life back even though life around her won't be the same. Life has changed so much, but no matter what, Cass will do whatever it takes to get to Ruthie.
I am calling it now, Aftertime is easily on my list of best book of the year. It is so well written. It is destructive, adventurous, heartbreaking and just downright beautiful. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I read that this will be a series on Littlefield's website here: http://www.sophielittlefield.com/dystopian/ , but there doesn't seem to be a name yet. Either way, I can't wait to read more from this author.
*This book belongs to the following challenge:
BCC's Horror & Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge 2011