The Rains / Last Chance by Greg Hurwitz
When going through a dry book spell, it helps to keep your eyes open to new opportunities. Of course it makes sense to jump start the reading frenzy by discovering a new read thanks to a local bookstore. Even cooler when it's a comic book store.
Thanks to Blastoff Comics (North Hollywod), I was introduced to Gregg Hurwitz. This nook of a comic book store was a already a favorite as they are one of the local places that hosts author readings for Lit Crawl. That event had already introduced me local talent so I was curious about this featured author. I figured Hurwitz must be pretty awesome since Blastoff was hosting Hurwitz book launch party for the sequel to his YA book, The Rains.
So whoosh! I went to the public library website and immediately placed a request to borrow The Rains. The day before the launch of the sequel, I picked up the book from the library. Two hours before the launch party, I had already finished the book and my hands for itching for the sequel!
It was just that damn good of a book.
I am not sure when YA transitioned being just a genre for “cute” light reads and became this engrossing and soul binding section of fiction. The Rains was like an action movie in words and it’s hard to not describe it with the movie trailer lingo. It really was a high octane thrill ride and the sequel (which I also devoured in less than 2 days), Last Chance, did not disappoint.
With The Rains, we begin in a rural town called Creek’s Cause. Meteors have fallen causing strange stalks to grow before they disintegrate into ash. Then a farmer begins to feel strange and bloated. He begins to act funny, loses his mind. His family watches as he climbs into a water tower. What they don’t see is how his body explodes into a storm of spores. For immediately after this happens, with the spores dispersed quickly through the air, the adults change and go after all the children. All children. Rounding them all up for some other-worldly purpose and it is all kinds of horrific.
The adventure begins with the Rains brothers, Chance and Patrick. These brothers exude country values: strong, resilient, and full of common sense. It doesn’t take them long to figure out something horrible is happening and they work together to protect the younger children. As pieces of the horror around them begin to make sense, they realize that once you turn 18, right down to the minute, you become one of them. Now the race to survival becomes a race against the clock as the oldest brother is nearing his 18th birthday.
It is such a refreshment to read a apocalypse triggered alien spores than lab grown zombies. Zombies are fun but the horror of zombies have sort of stagnated into something familiar and expected.
Reading about the alien spore immediately connected these books to my favorite Michael Crichton book, The Andromeda Stain. Just like Crichton, Hurwitz is great with injecting adrenaline pumping danger in a plausible science setting. It really caters to the morbid game of "what if" in science in a gruesome and deadly way. Zombies are not really scary. Microscopic invaders are.
During the talk, Hurwitz mentioned wanting to incorporate brothers that weren’t competing with one another and who truly loved each other. This dynamic comes off really well across the pages although I can't imagine how it would be in any other way. Especially since Patrick had to act like the grownup on their relationship since they lost both their parents. Patrick is pure strength, reliability,and love. Chance is more a pretty awesome balance of brains and courage. Following these brothers is sheer entertainment.
As much as I adored the strength and her overall bad ass role that Alex, the main female lead, I would have loved to do away with the “love triangle”. I'm grateful it wasn't a "which one will she choose scenario" since she begins as Patrick's devoted girlfriend. With each passing horror and new dilemma, Alex begins to view Chance as less of a little brother but as something more. This weakens her so much. She never loses her love or devotion to Patrick but it seem gives her this fickle eye that rubs me the wrong way. I can understand Chance nursing his long time crush on Alex but for Alex to start to reciprocate makes me seethe. So if the world wasn't turning upside down and Chance never got to show what he can accomplish, would she have even looked at him?
It is the only weak point in the book but it is so minor to the crazy that is going on. I never thought I would freak out at a jump scare in a book but it happened...several times! There are chases, piles of close-calls, and bleak moments. This is not a fluffy book of lots of positive. It is a fast, heart pumping read and it is amazing.
Gregg Hurwitz author website: http://gregghurwitz.net/