Title: White Horse
Author: Alex Adams
Release Date: April 17, 2012
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The world has come crashing down around Zoe. She had a job as a janitor at Pope Pharmaceuticals and everything is normal, until people around Zoe started getting sick. People keep getting infected until it’s revealed that a genetic mutation has effectively ended the human race. 90% of people will die, 5% will be fine, and the other 5% will mutate into something beyond recognition. Panicked, Zoe flees to Europe to find the one person who can help her make sense of what’s happening.
White Horse presents a bleak, desperate world in which there is little hope. The human race is finished. For those who didn’t contract the mutation, all that’s really left is to live out their lives in peace, and then die, knowing their race is dying along with them. It’s a situation which most of us can’t even fathom, yet Alex Adams does an incredible job bringing this crumbling society to life through her wonderful descriptions.
The book is told in two different time periods simultaneously; that is, it jumps back and forth through time, so readers are able to see two different Zoes. She’s never naïve, but does have an innocence that she quickly loses over the course of the book. Pre-mutation, she comes across as a docile, almost shy woman who wants to keep her head below radar. In the scenes of the future, she’s a warrior. She fights for what she wants and what she believes in. She’s strong, capable, and resourceful. It’s wonderful to see the character growth and development over the course of the book.
Adams’ worldbuilding in White Horse is done expertly. Because we get to see the world falling apart in front of us, it’s not difficult to see how the world we know came to be the one Zoe experiences. She has to face the worst of humanity on her journey; it’s frightening, yet horribly realistic. Her musings as she wanders are fascinating. Somehow, despite her situation and what she’s seen, she never loses faith in humanity, a character trait that carried me through this dark book.
White Horse is the first in a trilogy, and it’s incredibly well done. It’s not clear where the sequels will go, but Adams set up a potentially explosive storyline with the last lines of the book. There are many dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels being written and published these days, but this is one that’s more than worth your time and effort. It’s beautiful and haunting, with a surprise around every corner