Orion City is in Quarantine. They have been for a decade now. The people inside have succumbed to the reality of their future– one where they’re never allowed to leave. Yet, the virus that caused them to become prisoners in their own home isn’t an average sickness. It’s a DNA twisting nightmare that transforms normal people into animals. Insane, raging animals.
Courtney is a barista by day, trying to avoid the craziness of her city and her father. She’s bored, though, or at least that’s what the eccentric W tells her. Their friendship is unintentional and feverish, one that includes gun fights and snow storms and homeless children. But when W is around, Courtney isn’t so bored. And that… doesn’t bother her?
When Courtney finds herself on the precipice between “good” and “evil” with her new friend on the other side, she has to ask what kind of life she wants to live– a tame, boring one or a daring, morally gray one? Better yet, can she get used to being a little “crazy”?
I was in love with this from the get-go. I knew I was going to love a book that was labeled as dystopian. But SUPERHERO dystopian?! Hooked. Instantly.
First of all, I want to say that this is a book that’s going to stick with you like glue. Fox just has this way of writing things that you dwell on long after you’ve finished with the book itself. Now only is her descriptive prowess phenomenal, but her way of creating and playing characters that are SO human absolutely blows my mind.
The world-building sucked me in as well. Orion City is by far the dingiest place I’ve travelled this year, through my reading that is, lol. But it’s just so real. I don’t know how else to explain it. Gritty, dingy, and… well, human. You’ve got criminals who are just trying to survive a world that threw them to the curb, you’ve got average citizens getting caught up in things they have no business dealing with, you’ve got families that can’t get over the past– Orion City is real. That’s what makes it such a terrifying place.
As far as length goes, it was a tad on the longer side, but that didn’t deter me at all. I ate every single word with relish. It wasn’t long enough, as far as I’m concerned! I’ll be sobbing over that ending for MONTHS. Or at least until book 2. Lol
THIS IS MY FAVORITE PART! With every review I write, I generally have one section of this “outline” that I get really, really excited about. We’ve all got our favorite parts of books. A action-packed sword fight, a swoon-worthy kiss, a smart-mouthed granny– You do you. For me, for this book, it was the beautiful characters.
First of all, you’ve got Courtney. At first, you think she’s a pretty average, boring barista. She goes to work every single day; she makes her way through her routine with little-to-no enthusiasm. Her family is a bit broken: her father pushed her away after their mother left, and her teen brother keeps trying to jam those puzzle pieces back together. I wasn’t impressed with Court when I first met her. Honestly, she kind of bored me. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not, really. Because when W came into her life and he started to change her ideals about the world, she came alive. I liked how level-headed she was and how she wasn’t afraid to break away from the mold of society. She’s a free thinker and can’t be swayed by others telling her she’s “crazy.” Plus, she was NEVER helpless. Even when things started going downhill for her. She never once rolled over and let the men do everything for her. Talk about a strong female lead. Lol
Next, we’ve got Jasper. (I’m saving my favorite for last.) Jasper is an outsider in Orion City. He volunteered to come into the Wall in order to work as a detective. He’s one of the most naive characters I’ve read of in a while. At first, it was kind of charming how silver-lining his perspective was about everything in Orion City. He thinks he can save the world– within the limits of the law, of course. After a while, though, Jasper started to turn my stomach. Again, I think this was intentional. He started pushing Courtney to follow his ideals, started giving her advice she didn’t need, started pushing her boundaries and limiting her alone time…. Call it protective and cute if you will. I’ll stick with being a bit controlling. I didn’t like Jasper.
MY FAVORITE. W. I don’t know how I’m going to tell you about him without giving away some major plot points, but I’ll do my best. W is a bit of an enigma for most of the story. We don’t know a THING about him other than that he’s “eccentric,” to quote Courtney. He’s unconventionally handsome, says some off-the-wall and strange things, orders his coffee with an obscene amount of sugar, but he’s also…. very protective and… um, violent? W is a deep thinker. He forced Courtney to really think about her life and how she wants things to be. I adore how morally gray he is. He does bad, bad things, but good GREIF he does them beautifully and for some respectable reasons. He’s the perfect anti-villain. (I had to google that one, hehe.) I won’t say much more, because I don’t want to ruin it.
Ooh, the plot.
When I say this book was one punch after another, I freakin’ mean it. The beginning was a tad slow for me. I worried about it, actually, waiting for it to pick up.
BUT GOOD GOD when it did, I just– I can’t. I just can’t.
It all sort of starts when W enters the picture. And everything just sort of falls like dominos. First of all, you’ve got Jasper’s storyline– the cop chasing the bad guy. In this case, the “bad guy” is a notorious criminal called The Whistler, who can somehow be connected to dozens of crimes and has managed to avoid police since the Quarantine. Then, you’ve got the scientists inside the AITO lab, studying the Changers (people who have gotten the “virus” and changed into animals). Then, you’ve got Courtney over here somehow surviving a wild stand-off with three armed brutes and getting trapped in snowstorms with her “friend” W.
And the romance. Good grief, the romance. This wasn’t as tense as the last book I read, but the feels were strong in this one too! There’s a bit of a love triangle going between Courtney, Jasper, and W. Courtney’s two men are world’s different, and I’m pretty sure you know who I’m rooting for, lol. Some of the romantic tropes present in this book had me falling on my bed in dramatic pining. The “villain” falling at Courtney’s door after he’s been shot, after he disappeared from her life to save her (very Edward-like, if I may say so). The scene where a nightmare wakes Courtney up and he proceeds to hold her and she says “stay, please” and he DOES IT. and I DIE INSIDE. And when they finally kiss. Someone slap me across the face with a wet rag. I need to go touch some grass. UGH.
Fun Quotes (and the notes I took when I read them, lol):
I had to add this part in, because this book has some golden quotes. Golden!
“You’re only as small as the person you see in the mirror. One day, if you’re wily enough, you might make that person change shape.”
My response: Goosebumps. Full body goosebumps.
“Sometimes you need a mask to tell the truth.””The truth of what?”His pale eyes seemed to burn in the shadows. “That one man can make a difference.”
My response: Those two were within pages of each other. I thought I might die. This one hit HARD.
“Behind her, the bed dipped, and two warm arms slipped around her. Open coat adjusted to invite her into its cocoon, (redacted) settled his head on the pillow behind her. Her breath vanished.”
My response: Squeal like a young girl and proceed to throw myself down where I was standing. A full fledged unintelligible meltdown.
Honestly, 10/10. All the stars. All of them.
Social Media Links:
** I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.🙂 **