Review: Red Hill

Red Hill
Red Hill by Jamie McGuire
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When the world ends, can love survive?

For Scarlet, raising her two daughters alone makes fighting for tomorrow an everyday battle. Nathan has a wife, but can’t remember what it’s like to be in love; only his young daughter Zoe makes coming home worthwhile. Miranda’s biggest concern is whether her new VW Bug is big enough to carry her sister and their boyfriends on a weekend escape from college finals.

When reports of a widespread, deadly “outbreak” begin to surface, these ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances and suddenly their fates are intertwined. Recognizing they can’t outrun the danger, Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda desperately seek shelter at the same secluded ranch, Red Hill. Emotions run high while old and new relationships are tested in the face of a terrifying enemy—an enemy who no longer remembers what it’s like to be human.

Set against the backdrop of a brilliantly realized apocalyptic world, love somehow finds a way to survive. But what happens when the one you’d die for becomes the one who could destroy you?

Like all zombie apocalypse novels, Red Hill starts off with a normal day and then everything goes to hell as people start getting infected, bitten, start dying, biting, etc. Survivors are then running and being scared or shooting off. This story is about a band of survivors told from the perspective of three of them, chronicling their journey to their safe haven Red Hill. Scarlet is a single mother, Nathan a newly-single father and Miranda a college girl. Each has their own story and their loved ones to protect. Initially, for the first half of the book, it’s all action-based, with each character on the run from the zombies. Second half is on the emotional dynamics between the characters as they settle into a semblance of life at Red Hill.

I was entertained by the first half – it was well-written, the horror and fear depicted wonderfully. The coincidences seemed a bit too coincidental if you know what I mean – the world isn’t that small! Then in the second half, when it focuses on the characters, it is then that the construction of each falls. Their voices blend in and besides the name at the chapter, nothing really separates them. There is no reasonable explanation given as to why Miranda suddenly lost interest in Bryce, what those soldiers were doing at the entrance of Anderson, what happened to Cooper’s family, and many other small things like the coincidences and how certain characters were killed off towards the end needlessly. Miranda, as a character, had so much potential – she was a natural leader and was reduced to a passive character in the second half and subsequently killed off towards the end for no reason other than to avoid the messy repercussions of a love triangle . It was a bit of a speed-read for me in the second part because I was too bored to read at leisure.

So, in short I would say writing is good, and there is good fast-paced action but otherwise poorly constructed characters.

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