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- Published on Amazon.com
I love this series, I love it. I plan on re-reading it soon and am jonesing for the release of #3 in 2012. This book made me cry, made me laugh -- and made me stay up late reading. I felt Cassie's pain and her anger. Sophie Littlefield is an amazing author who tells an amazing tale.
The setting for this story is in post-apocalyptic California, post the bio destruction of the land during wars, post the collapse of the government, and post the rise of a zombie type creature that was created by bio-engineering to plants - it is After and everything that came prior to these events was Before. In Aftertime, there is no government, no infrastructure and everyday is a fight for survival. So that is the backdrop for the story - running from zombie like creatures, trying to find food, groups vying for power, true evilness coming out in humans that are no longer held back by societal rules, and attempts at creating a new civilization. All the good and fun parts of post-apocalyptic stories. But for me, the true story is one of self discovery and growth. The main character is Cassie. We learn in Aftertime (book #1 in this series), that Cassie is a recovering alcoholic, she is a woman who learned to survive and use her body early on in her life and thus thinks that much of her power lies in her sexuality, and she is a mother of a very young child. Cassie is desperately trying to create a life where her daughter, Ruthie, can survive and she is in love with a man, Smoke, that she hooked up with in Aftertime. But Smoke leaves on an expedition, which means there is no guarantee that Cassie will ever see him again. Dror, a man who is a leader in the community Cassie is surviving in, must head out on his own expedition and Cassie decides her and her daughter need to go with him if they are ever going to survive and find a safe place to live --- and Cassie hopes to find Smoke again. This story is a quest, Cassie, Dror and Ruthie traveling the now dangerous highways of California, trying to find refuge in abandoned homes, and fighting other survivalists along the way. The entire time Cassie is protecting her daughter Ruthie, mourning the absence of Smoke, and attempting to hope that Dror feels committed to her and Ruthie enough that he will continue to protect them.
Cassie's past is not pretty and she often remembers what she was like when she was an alcoholic, when she would go home with man after man in her alcoholic stupor, or the abuse she sustained as a child from her mom and step-dad, but despite the unattractiveness of her past Cassie is determined to make a change in her future. She is very concerned about those around her and she is leader. Sophie Littlefield is a very brave author, she allows her story to go places many authors are afraid to go. I was really impressed with the scenes between Cassie and Dror. First off, the scenes were incredibly hot. Maybe the hottest I have read in any book. Second, Cassie was in pain and reverting back to how she quieted her emotions and those around her when she was an alcoholic - Ms. Littlefield didn't take the easy way out, she brought Cassie's past to the forefront. Cassie believes all of her power lies in her body and sexuality and she believes she was manipulating Dror. What she doesn't know is that Dror cares deeply for her. This is not an easy topic to address, Cassie is in a relationship with a man she loves and a man to whom Dror is friends with - but who left her to go on an expedition. Cassie is a mom of a young child, yet she goes out in to dangerous territory seeking safety instead of waiting for death to come to her. I have read some reviews criticizing the "infidelity" or the fact that Cassie doesn't follow sexual rules of conduct. I have also read reviews criticizing the fact that Cassie brings her daughter on this dangerous quest. Well, this setting of this book is not present day California where Cassie could just hide out with her daughter and wait for the cavalry to come. She is in a situation where she has to be proactive and find something safe and good. She knows the man she loves in likely in danger and she does not know day to day if she will survive. Add on to that, this man left her without even saying good-bye. Cassie does not even know if he still wants her or loves her. People in very stressful situations do not always do the most socially appropriate things and I applaud Ms. Sophie Littlefield for allowing the story to naturally go where she wrote it.
A significant character in the aftertime books is Ruthie - Cassie's almost 3 year old daughter. Rarely are kids included in adult books of this genre and if they are - they are usually put there to pull on the emotional heart strings of the reader (e.g. The Passage by Justin Cronin). Ruthie definitely does some heartstring pulling, but she is not just a throw in. The fact of her existence reshaped who Cassie is and every step Cassie takes is tempered or governed by Ruthie's needs. During Aftertime I was very stressed about Ruthie and that does not change in Rebirth, but Ruthie has started to add to the story and she is an important character.
Okay, so lest you think this entire book was emotional and questing stuff - it wasn't. The last third of this book is action packed and tense. It is full good guys, bad guys and gray areas - fighting, interrogation and escape scenes. It has horror filled gore scenes with zombies eating people, lots of fun stuff! If I had any nails, they would have all been bitten off during the last 1/3 of the book. The first ½ to 2/3 of this book does have less action than Aftertime, however it is important to the story and I really loved all of it. I like Cassie, I like the characters and I love the story being told.
I cannot wait for book #3.