I waited for this book for a year, and I’m not ashamed to admit that.
Jamie McGuire is one of my favorite authors even though Beautiful Disaster is far from my favorite book (she’s also a friend). The truth is, though, Abby and Travis just aren’t people I like very much. However, somehow none of that matters. When I read that novel last year I noticed something about Jamie’s writing, something that kept me reading until 3AM and had me telling other people they should just go ahead and read the book.
Jamie McGuire can craft a story.
Even though I wanted to forget BD, to dismiss it as a fun and crazy romance about two screwed up college kids, to this day it’s a story where I remember almost everything that happened. Everything. Dialogue. Plot points. Description. All of it. I’m even obsessed with updates about the movie, even though Abby and Travis are people I would never associate with in real life. For someone who reads 100 or more books in the average year, that’s hard to do.
Which is why, dear friends, I couldn’t wait for Jamie and Atria to release Red Hill. I even bugged her about it on a few occasions. I needed it to be October 1st back in July. Or before that.
I just needed the book to be out. And now, it is.
Red Hill is a really interesting work. It straddles two genres–never being a full romance or a full on horror story, but somehow a mix of both. Told from the perspectives of three main characters, their lives collide at Red Hill Ranch, the remote outpost somewhere near the Oklahoma/Kansas border that winds up being just the right place to ride out the zombie apocalypse.
I’ve been to that part of the country, by the way. It would be the best place to hide, for sure.
The first half of the book centers on the quest to get there, as these characters fight through a deteriorating society and begin to discover what each of them will do when faced with grim odds. The second half focuses all on life at the ranch, which presents challenges of its own and changing alliances. And of course, some romance.
Once again, Jamie proved what I suspected. She can write the heck out of something, even the zombie apocalypse.Her writing style is also on full display here. Quick, moving sentences, punchy dialogue, and strong voice all make this story flow. As the reader, I couldn’t help but turn the page.
Also, Red Hill takes places in very believable world, and she presents just enough back story to make you understand what is happening to the broader society while centering the tale on the microcosm that is Red Hill Ranch. It’s easy in a science fiction based novel to get too wrapped up in back story and world building (I know something about this through my own feeble attempts). Jamie does just enough for the focus to stay more on the people involved and their problems.
And that brings me to an important point.
Red Hill is not a book for someone who reads a lot of Stephen King, or who is obsessed with World War Z, though. After I finished the last sentence, I decided it’s a book for someone who wants something different on the Kindle, but doesn’t want a heaviness of a some of the other science fiction and fantasy novels out there. It’s sort of “zombie apocalypse light” and I think there should be more of this type of work out there.
It’s great. It really is. In my mind, it’s better than Beautiful Disaster. The characters are more likable, and more real. The writing still makes me shudder in delight. And the story itself is unforgettable.
Now, Jamie, when is your next book coming out?