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?
Red Hill is a phenomenally written, deeply heartfelt journey of survival and love in the midst of the zombie apocalypse! It grabs you from the first page and holds on to your heart long after you’ve finished! ♥
I first fell in love with Jamie McGuire’s writing with her bad boy romance Beautiful Disaster and despite the fact that zombies aren’t usually “my thing”, I was absolutely blown away by this book! It had strong writing, a gripping plot, great balance between character development and action scenes, and a story that tugged your heartstrings. I absolutely LOVED it!!
But before I start the review, I just want to help clear up a few things that I’ve been asked a lot about …
- First, this is not a zombie romance. No one falls in love with a zombie here. The main characters are all human. But the story is set against the backdrop of the zombie apocalypse. So they present a constant danger to the characters’ survival but none of the main characters are zombies. Promise.
- Second, this is not a paranormal book per say. The zombie element is described scientifically as a virus so there is no mystical or magical element, and there is no other remotely ‘supernatural’ element at all. In fact, I’d say the whole story had a very ‘real life’ feeling to it.
- Third, this is in part a romance but that is not the sole focus of the book. There are three main storylines (which I will explain in more detail below) that start off separate but as the story moves forward, they intersect and connect up. But I can say though that as a reader who absolutely needs romance in her books, I did not even for one second miss it in the parts of the book that were non-romance focused. I was connected to every word of the story. I loved both the romance and the action scenes. It’s a wild ride and you really should just dive in! 🙂
Ok moving on to the actual review…
I really have to say that this is one of those books I honestly loved everything about. I genuinely do not have a single complaint about it and there isn’t one thing I’d change. It was gripping, addictive, and hauntingly evocative. It made me feel like I was right there living the story along with the characters.
The story follows three main characters on a day when a deadly virus breaks out across the world which essentially kills people quickly and reanimates their dead bodies. The three characters are Scarlet, a single mom working as a nurse who is separated from her children on the day the disaster strikes and desperately tries to find them again; Nathan, an unhappy man trapped in a loveless marriage whose main focus after the zombies start to take over is getting his young daughter to a safe place; and Miranda, a college student heading to the country for the weekend with her sister and their boyfriends. At first, these characters’ lives were all separate but as the story went on, we began to see them all overlap and connect up as they all, for one reason or another, make their way to the safety of Red Hill ranch.
My heart was racing throughout most of my read. The action and the atmosphere was perfectly described. I could feel the growing panic — the fear and uncertainty of the unknown coming in from all sides and the sheer helplessness of feeling like there was literally nowhere you could hide from it. The build up of tension was fabulously done in these little tiny details that together just made for that absolutely chilling feeling that came with the desperation of not knowing if your loved ones were safe, not knowing where to run to or where to find safety or how to save yourself or anyone else.
That being said, I woudn’t say this is a horror book. It’s not meant to terrify you out of your mind but at the same time… it’s zombies, guys. There’s feeding and biting and all manner of shudder-some details and I won’t deny that I got jumpy while reading it… all of a sudden that strange noise outside my window could be anything! EEP! But honestly… I just couldn’t get enough of it and couldn’t put the book down.
One of the most important elements in this book that really made me fall in love with it was that these characters were smart. Nobody made any stupid decisions. These guys had seen movies, they’d watched TV shows, they knew how it worked. Nobody had “brilliant” ideas like — ‘Ooooh! Let’s all split up in the dark to cover more ground’ — or anything like that. Nope. Once it registered with them that this was really happening, they all handled it in a smart, capable way and I LOVED IT!!!!
“I wasn’t sure how long we could survive, but I knew I wasn’t dying on day one of the fucking zombie apocalypse.”
The writing was honestly just phenomenal. It was the kind where I really didn’t even notice it because it created the world so seamlessly that it was like the words just melted away and the story played out in my head like a movie. It got me right inside the minds of each character. I knew exactly what they were all going through. The detail was perfect and yet so much happened!! It was fast paced without ever seeming rushed and the ending of each chapter made me need to flip the page. There was simply no good stopping point.
Another thing I appreciated was that I genuinely liked each of the main characters. They were all endearing, or relatable, or just plain awesome in their own way. The whole story was very interconnected! Pay attention to the details when you’re reading, guys, because there are lots of little things where later on you go ‘ohhhhhh, it was him!’ or some such.
Ok, now, regarding the romance… Yes, there IS romance!! But as I mentioned above, it is not the sole focus of the book. I’d say that primarily this is a book about a group of characters trying to survive the zombie apocalypse but along the way (mostly in the second half of the book), some of them do find love. I felt deeply emotionally connected to everyone and honestly even the scenes that were not romantic had me just as riveted. I personally thought that the way the romance was woven into the story was really well done and very well balanced.
The ending had me almost in tears several times! I won’t lie, some people die but certainly not everyone. There are survivors and I was very happy with the ending. It wasn’t all hearts and rainbows but at the same time, it was actually kind of perfect for the story.
Overall, I was so incredibly impressed with this book. Jamie McGuire made me, a reader who isn’t into zombie books, fall in love with it. The characters and their stories grabbed my heart and didn’t let go. I still have a huge book hangover and am just not ready to move on yet. A part of me is still back at Red Hill.
This is a standalone.
Thank you to the publishers at Atria for sending me an advance copy to review!!