Title: Red Hill
Author: Jamie McGuire
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Thriller
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
At first, the stories of an “outbreak” are ignored; after all, everyone knows that zombies are the stuff of fiction. But that’s before the infection invades American cities; all of a sudden, people are scrambling to survive, to find a way to cope with the people coming back from the dead. Scarlet is a mother whose children are with their father for the weekend; she is determined to find them and bring them to safety, no matter the cost. Nathan’s wife has left him the same day the outbreak because a real menace; he’ll do whatever he can to protect his daughter Zoe. And Miranda, her sister, and their friends are heading to their dad’s rural ranch, Red Hill. Each of these people are trying to survive in a new world they don’t understand, and will have to face horrors they never thought possible.
Though zombies might seem overdone, Red Hill is a well-written and gripping novel that depicts the horrors that might come with such an event very well. Readers will be surprised by the depth of the novel, as it provokes questions that readers will ponder long after the last pages are turned.
There are a lot of readers that hear the word “zombies” and groan; after all, the subject has been tackled quite a bit in recent novels. But Red Hill offers something different, something unique that should make readers take notice: a new perspective. Instead of focusing on the reasons behind the outbreak, focusing on some sort or larger conspiracy or secret, or setting the novel in the distant future, when humanity has been able to rebuild in part, the book is focused on the here and now. It’s about what happens while the outbreak is occurring, told from three unique perspectives.
By using narratives from three different people, Jamie McGuire gives the reader a comprehensive view of what’s happening in Red Hill. Though some of their experiences and concerns are similar—mainly getting away from the infected and finding a way to survive—they each have different thoughts and motivations. It’s so interesting to see what each of them go through, and how they come together into one story. Scarlet, in particular, was a fascinating character; she makes some difficult decisions, and while I’m not sure I agreed with the value she placed on one life over another, there is no way the reader can blame her for the decisions she makes. It really puts the reader in that situation, making them wonder what they would do if they were facing those desperate times. As a result, not only would Red Hill make a great book club read, but it also gives the novel surprising depth that readers wouldn’t expect from a zombie thriller.
Jamie McGuire’s prose is clear and crisp in Red Hill, making the book very easy to read. The story moves at a fast pace, ensuring that the pages will fly by. This is a book you could easily consume in one sitting. It’s not always the easiest read, as the characters watch the people they love fall around them, only to be reborn into something horrifying, but it’s certainly well-written and thought provoking.