Sophie Littlefield gives the Apocalypse a new twist with the world she has created in Aftertime. The big event didn’t come with bombs or nuclear weapons. A biological agent destroyed most of the food supply on Earth, creating wide-spread famine. In a last-ditch effort to feed the people, the government dispersed seeds for a special plant that would serve everyone’s nutritional needs. Seeds for a second plant got mixed in… but it was flawed and turned anyone who ate it into zombies, called Beaters. As with traditional zombie mythology, they hunger for human flesh –and as they feed, they turn their victims into zombies too.
Cass was attacked, but unlike anyone else, she recovered. When she came to her senses, she was miles away from the camp where she was living –and she was separated from her young daughter. The book follows her quest to reunite with little Ruthie. On her way, she meets up with Smoke, who becomes a love interest of sorts. There are two main roadblocks to a relationship. One, Cass’s fear that her saliva will infect him. And two, her warped past of promiscuity and addiction.
Littlefield’s world is stark and bleak. It shows us a myriad of ways people could react to a cataclysmic event and few of them are pretty. And if that doesn’t give you the heavy feel of a boulder on your chest, getting inside Cass’s head will certainly do it. She is a woman filled equally with purpose and self-loathing. It takes a long time to get to the bottom of the self-destructive nature of her old life, but when we get the answers, they are exactly what you’d expect. What you might NOT expect, is her refusal to give up on Ruthie. And let me tell you, it’s a long and winding road to find her.
The story builds and builds to a huge crescendo, to end rather abruptly. But I can forgive that, knowing the sequel, Rebirth, is coming this summer. I can only hope it will feature Cass & Smoke. (His was a great character, and we barely scratched the surface.)
This was a really good book, which was constantly posing new questions as it answered old ones. And it’s a great study of humanity’s greatest strengths and weaknesses all at once. 4 1/2 stars.
*ARC provided by NetGalley
Aftertimeby Sophie LittlefieldRelease Date: February 15, 2011Publisher: Luna