Review: The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker

Publication Date: February 1st, 2012
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since I’d seen daylight. One-fifth of my life. 98,409,602 seconds since the heavy, steel door had fallen shut and sealed us off from the world
Sherry has lived with her family in a sealed bunker since things went wrong up above. But when they run out of food, Sherry and her dad must venture outside. There they find a world of devastation, desolation…and the Weepers: savage, mutant killers.
When Sherry’s dad is snatched, she joins forces with gorgeous but troubled Joshua – an Avenger, determined to destroy the Weepers.
But can Sherry keep her family and Joshua safe, when his desire for vengeance threatens them all?

Three years have passed since Sherry’s family sequestered themselves in a bunker and things are looking mighty bleak. They’ve just eaten their last food, her mother’s asthma is getting worse and grandma seems to be on the brink of madness. Her father had come to the conclusion that he would not stand by and watched his family barely survived the plague only to die of starvation. He made the decision to go up to the surface and find food or help. Sherry could not let her father go alone, and with a basic gun knowledge and by virtue of being the eldest of the siblings, she volunteered to help. The world they once knew was now a desolate, scary place – overrun by monsters with a healthy appetite for fresh flesh and blood. While on a hunt, Sherry and her father found themselves surrounded by Weepers. Her father was taken while Sherry was thankfully saved by a fearless boy who’s a danger to himself. Joshua has nothing and no one left to lose. He has one thing left to live for – to hunt and kill the monsters that prowl the streets. Sherry is left to ponder if his appetite for destruction will be the cause of their eventual demise.

This book’s release date in North America is not till May. But because I’ve never really been known for my patience, I ordered the UK copy right away (the UK copy has a better cover anyway, IMO). Why? Well, it’s just my type of book; post-apocalyptic with some zombie-like, flesh and blood eating creatures terrorizing the country. I was sold. And let me tell you, this was a relentless read. It sank its teeth onto me and never let go until the bitter end. Here, I was introduced to a different breed of monsters…kind of like zombies but not really. Think, werewolves/zombies.  A new strain of rabies turned humans into well, rabid, flesh eating creatures and yet somehow have managed to keep some of their brains.  That’s what they were, smart monsters – a scarier breed of monsters who stockpile humans by kidnapping them and bringing them to their nests for future…err, feeding. It’s almost as if they knew that their supply for food will eventually dwindle. So the story begins when Sherry teams up with Joshua to find her father. Alive or dead, they have a tiny window of time to save him, or what’s left of him.

This novel moves unforgivingly fast. You’re thrown into a terrifying world where you feel like you’re being chased all the time – where sleep is an impossible feat because you know as soon as you close your eyes, the horrific images of the day will be the movie that plays behind your eyelids.  And the thing about it was, that jittery feeling never left until there was only about a page left. And even then, I was still not comforted with the thought that everyone was safe for the time being. The tension and the feeling of dread was a constant thing.

I also loved that the author managed to give us a sort of Genesis to the post-apocalyptic environment of the book by imposing some of Sherry’s past, which ultimately gave us a view of the beginning and the end of her world. It was all easily imagined and it’s a credit to Ms. Winnacker’s writing. She was very straight-forward and concise, helpful especially to this genre where every fear of every character plays an integral role in capturing the over all emotional ambiance of the book. Nothing was lost in translation, everything was succinct.

Overall, The Other Life is a gruesome story told in a grueling pace. If you’ve ever complained about a slow start to a book, or a plateau in the middle, well, you will not find it here. It’s like a bag of Lay’s potato chips, once you start, you can’t stop. The worst part about reading this book? The waiting for the sequel.

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