Genre: Young Adult – Horror- Post Apocalyptic
Series: Rains #2
Publisher: Tor Teen (October 17, 2017)
Length: 381 pages
My Rating: 2.5 stars
Last Chance is the second volume of Gregg Hurwitz’s Rains Series, picking up the tale of brothers Chance and Patrick Rain as they struggle to survive the transformation of their peaceful town into a zombie infested war zone. While book one, The Rains, was all about the initial outbreak, this follow-up installment delves more deeply into the progenitors of the outbreak, their true motives, and the reason why the Rain brothers find themselves wanted men. And while all that makes Last Chance sound like just another entry in the ever growing horde of novels about zombie that isn’t exactly a fair assessment, because this narrative has a nice twist on the familiar theme, one which makes Gregg Hurwitz’s novel a nice change-of-pace read for zombie enthusiasts.
Brothers Chance and Patrick Rain, along with a small group of fellow teens and a couple teachers, continue their struggle to survive after parasitic spores infect everyone over 18 years-of-age in their town of Creek’s Cause. But even more terrifying than the “zombies” are the dark clad figures who soon appear and seem to control them; these “Harvesters” (as the survivors call them) gathering up children and teenagers, taking them to areas where the brothers know unspeakable things are being done to them.
As this narrative begins, Chance Rain is alone, having survived the survivors’ attack on the Harvesters base, but now separated from everyone else. He is determined, terrified, and wishes that he was as tough as his older brother, because he realizes it is only a matter of time before he is captured and taken back to the “Hatch Site.”
The story that follows is all about Chance Rain as he fights Harvesters, interacts with the other survivors, and slowly learns what is so special about himself and Patrick that everyone (Harvesters and other survivors) seems to be looking for them. The revelation of exactly why just as surprising and distressing as the outbreak itself!
Not being a huge fan of zombie stories, I was a little wary of this book. I mean, the story of people attempting to survive the collapse of civilization after a zombie outbreak has been done before, right? I seem to recall some comic series and television show called The Walking Dead touching on that and being kind of a big thing in the recent past. But I was quite surprised how Gregg Hurwitz was able to surprise me, overcome my doubts, introduce me to me some interesting characters, and entertain me with his new spin on this old theme.
The point-of-view character here is, of course, Chance Rain. The story told through journal entries. And even though it did take me a few chapters to get use to the style, I very quickly stopped noticing, focused on Chance with his tragic past, his deep devotion to his fellow survivors, and his desire to be as tough as Patrick. Quickly, his warm relationship with other survivors and his troubled interaction with some bad apples made me care about everyone here even if I only knew them through a few journal entries. Hell, even Dr. Chatterjee, the teacher turned survivor leader, became more than a soon-to-be-eaten extra and instead became an interesting guy dealing with insurmountable terror and expectations. All these people quickly becoming people I cared about, which made everything which transpired next more emotional.
As for action, there is more than enough of it here. The author delivering just enough to keep the more character driven stuff from growing stale or boring, but never so much that you felt like you were on a runaway roller coaster barreling out of control. And, sure, the narrative had that whole “if-things-are-going-good-you-know-someone-will-soon-end-up-getting-eaten” kind of thing, but it’s a zombie book after all, so I sort of expected that.
The only negative to me was the scientific elements of the story. Specifically, I’m talking about the how, why, where, et cetera of the plague, the Harvesters, and their ultimate plan. Certainly, Hurwitz attempts to insert tidbits of scientific expositions into the narrative in a normal way, slowly educating a reader on the science, and make it seem plausible, creative, and horrific in equal measure, but for me, it never really fit together in a rational way. Yes, I understood the science. No, I never felt like I was dealing with info-dumps about it. Yeah, it was a creative concept. Yet I never felt convinced by any of it, compelled to believe this could really happen tomorrow in my own town. Instead, what kept going through my mind was “So this is really what we are going with here?”
Overall, I found Last Chance to be an entertaining read; the novel having a great mix of action, banter, feelings, romance, and horror to keep you flipping pages. Certainly, Gregg Hurwitz is striving to connect with lovers of young adult stories set in a post-apocalyptic world, but most anyone who enjoys fast-paced, exciting books would find this a worthy read.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.