Review: Signal Boost by Alyssa Cole

signal boostReviewed by Janell

This is a sequel to a book I haven’t read, but I heard great things about it so I gave it a go. I haven’t even read post-apocalyptic romance in a while, and I was pleased that the focus in this series is more about the people than the situation.

In the first book, Radio Silence, all of the electricity stopped working. John and his best friend, Arden, made their way to his parents’ cabin. As Signal Boost opens, the makeshift family has settled into a quiet routine, and everyone is reasonably happy. But John (or Jang-wan, as his mother calls him) feels unsettled, like his progress as a person has stalled, and he can’t appreciate his circumstances in the present because he worries that he will always be stuck there.

One night, Mykhail sneaks into their garden to steal some food, and John tackles him. John’s dormant emotions suddenly surface because Mykhail’s eyes sparkle. Also, Mykhail’s an astrophysicist who thinks he knows what happened in the world, and, “Lord help me but it was the sexiest thing ever to hear a man talk knowledgeably about physics.”

John invites himself on Mykhail’s quest to a nearby university to find out what’s going on and try to help. It’s mainly because he has a crush, but also because his computer tech skills are wasted in a place with no computers. John is equipped with sarcasm as self-defense, and Mykhail is boarded up behind scientific experimentation and guilt. But a good journey can break down barriers.

This story is all narrated from John’s first-person point of view, and his anxious wit shines. He loves and respects his parents, he worries about his younger sister, and he misses his best friend, because she’s now in love with his older brother. I felt his hope cautiously spring to life when Mykhail arrived, and I was impressed at his perseverance.

Mykhail remained kind of a mystery to me. From his technical way of speaking and his unemotional reactions, I wondered if he was supposed to be an autistic genius. It was never mentioned, though, and by the end of the book he seemed more human, so perhaps it was just his coping mechanism for all he’d been through. I loved him at first, then I was a little mad because he didn’t seem to reciprocate John’s feelings. I guess in the apocalypse no one is quite themselves.

This book scores for being super smart and super witty. The relationship (or, John’s hope for one) drove the plot for the first two-thirds, and then the end veered more into some “what’s up with the rest of the world” territory. It allowed John and Mykhail to have a serious talk and demonstrate their trust in each other. The end covered a lot of ground, world-wise, probably to set up for the next book, but I was satisfied to see John and Mykhail settle into a new life together.

Rating: B+

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

Signal Boost
by Alyssa Cole
Release Date: May 4, 2015
Publisher: Carina Press

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