Review: Red Hill by Jamie McGuire

My Thoughts

Action-packed and intense.
This apocalyptic adventure packs an unexpected emotional punch
with its relatable characters and their unrelenting spirit to survive.
It’s a story about finding hope amidst harrowing loss and
finding love in the wake of tragedy.
Riveting and addictive, Red Hill is both exciting
and heartfelt from beginning to end.

5stars

Synopsis

RED-HILL-BLOG1-660x1024When 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?

My Review

HOLY FREAKIN’ UNDEAD!!!! 

Zombies. Infected. The Dead Ones. The Undead. Walkers. Shufflers. Biters.
I blindly began this story as a zombie book novice. Jamie McGuire,  I know. Zombies… not so much, at least not within the pages of a book. But let me tell you… IT. WAS. AWESOME. Action. Heartbreak. Loss. Anger. Forgiveness. Romance. And above it all, love. These sentiments raged together throughout, as this emotionally-charged story took us on an gripping adventure with so many nail-biting (or perhaps I should say flesh-biting) moments that kept me glued to the page. You won’t find your typical girl-meets-boy romance here… but what you will find is a suspenseful story that’s heartfelt and human… a story of loss and survival… a story of finding love and hope amidst the seemingly imminent end of the world.

Cue zombie apocalypse.

“I know the world ended on a Friday. It was the last day I saw my children.”

The story follows a group of characters and is told through the point-of-view of three people in particular: Scarlet, Miranda and Nathan. Allowing the story to pour out of these three individuals was so much more poignant than if told through a singular POV. Their three lives unexpectedly converged, each person with a different story to tell, a different struggle to survive, and each of whom would bear the crushing and gaping loss of loved ones by the story’s end. And it’s because of these relatable characters that I was hooked.

Scarlet is our primary protagonist. A divorced mother of two, she was separated from her two girls, Halle and Jenna, the day chaos broke. A typical, over-tired, busy working mom, Scarlet finds courage from within to find her kids. Nothing — absolutely nothing — will stop her, undead or alive. As a mother, I totally understood Scarlet. I related to her unstoppable tenacity to do anything, no matter how little, no matter how dangerous, to give her daughters a chance at life. Scarlet was the heart of the group. She’s kind and loving, despite lacking the much-needed love and support from her ex-husband and family. I loved the way her character developed in the story, finding inner strength in her selflessness as she frantically sought her children and worked to keep their unlikely group together.

“It’s incredible, the way the imagination can physically affect the body. My heart rate had doubled, and I was beginning to sweat. The more my fear crept up, the more I kept reminding myself that my girls needed me. They were probably scared to death, and no matter what happened or what state they were in, I wanted to be with them.”

If Scarlet is the heart of the group, Nathan is the glue that holds them together. Nathan’s future is crushed the day it all began and he and his daughter Zoe must make it on their own.  Zoe is a child with special needs and Nathan’s patience, love and understanding gave him a special place in my heart. He’s steadfast and practical, with the adept skill to disarm conflict, which as the story unfurls, becomes a more common occurrence for their group.

Miranda is an 18-year-old college student, whom along with her boyfriend Bryce, her older sister Ashley and her boyfriend, Cooper, planned to take a trip to her father’s remote Red Hill Ranch when their plans — and the world — fell apart. She’s direct, smart and strong-willed, and despite being the younger sister, takes the courageous lead among the four of them as they navigate and battle herds of the undead. She’s not afraid to voice her thoughts, nor is she reluctant to challenge the group’s opinions when she feels it’s called for.

I felt like there was a duality to the book. A multifaceted, layered story line that evoked a differing range of emotions. One layer was the apocalyptic zombie world realized. It’s gruesome and tragic and familiar as I recalled my TV-influenced zombie lore.

“We’d all seen the end-of-the-world flicks to know how this was going to go down: mass chaos and carnage until the population whittled down. That’s when the walking dead would start leaving the cities to find a meal, but by then we’d be settled in and well educated in the art of zombicide. We had to survive the next few weeks first.”

The art of zombicide, however, is much more frightful in reality. Could you imagine seeing your neighbor approaching, slowly shuffling, bloody and hungry with milky, lifeless eyes? Your spouse? Your child? What do you do when the person you love will suddenly stop at nothing to destroy you? It’s a killed-or-be-killed reality. This is also the nail-biting, anxiety-inducing, peek-through-your-fingers part of the story that had me furiously flipping the pages.

“One after another they stumbled down the street, until the irregular pattern turned into groups, and then an army of undead, moving as one unit, toward the street.”

The second layer of the story is really the human, character-driven aspect of it. Each character is fairly well developed, particularly the main three, and through their past and present experiences we become invested in them, hoping they make it out alive, hand-in-hand with the people they love. Particularly in the second half of the book, the Jamie McGuire we know and love was able to conjure up moments and circumstances that explore topics of love and loneliness, commitment and desire, valor and fear, hope and hopelessness. I loved this part of the book. It really held me captive until the very end.

Through their various journeys, they all strive to make it to Red Hill Ranch, an isolated place safer than the congestion of the cities. Their time there is filled with highs and lows as they struggle to survive and are forced to witness indescribable tragedy. Their nerves are steeled the more they do to survive, but when loss hits so close to home and without an end in sight, it weighs on the entire group.

“Everyone seemed to be suffocating. We were surviving, but every passing day felt less like living.”

Time elapses quickly, sometimes rather unexpectedly, as days turn into weeks which turn into months. Scarlet’s unwavering hope that her girls are alive propels her to take on some dangerous risks and it soon becomes a point of contention amongst the group. As tensions rise, the group becomes more volatile. By this point, they’ve become an unconventional family with new relationships that emerge and intensify, creating that familiar friction that sometimes shows someone how much we truly care.

Overall, this was a riveting read that explored the relationships between parents and children, lovers, friends and neighbors and the lengths they would go to in order to survive… sometimes noble and heroic and other times barbaric and ugly. Like I mentioned above, this is not a romance, although romance is beautifully woven into the story. Red Hill is a story of survival, endurance and the sometimes fragile, sometimes unbreakable ties that bind us. Pick this highly addictive book up with an open mind and be prepared to embark on a journey to survive the end of times at Red Hill Ranch, zombie style.

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About Jamie McGuire

1012783_168319016673249_179864109_nJamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, OK. She attended the Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.Her most recent novel, Walking Disaster debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.

She has also written bestselling contemporary romance Beautiful Disaster, and the Providence series.Jamie now lives in Enid, OK with her three children and husband Jeff, who is a real, live cowboy. They share their 30 acres with six horses, three dogs, and Rooster the cat.

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Comments

  1. Great giveaway can’t wait to read this book

  2. OMG I want to read this book…hope i win…I’m a huge zombie fan!

  3. Kelly Kline says:

    Thank you so much for the giveaway! This book looks awesome and I’m dying to read it!!

  4. Thank soo much for this giveaway!!!!!
    I’m really looking forward to read it 🙂

  5. Thanks for the giveaway!!! *fingers crossed*

  6. i love Jamie McGuires writing and i cnnot wait to read this since im a big fan of Walking Dead!

  7. Thanks for the giveaway! Sounds like a good book!

  8. Great giveaway!

  9. Thanks for the giveaway!!! 🙂

  10. This type of story isn’t my ususal read, but the synopsis has me interested. I can be lured out of the box if the book can catch my interest…and this one has.

  11. Wow! I love your giveaways! 🙂

  12. Fingers Crossed 🙂

  13. Thank you so much

  14. Heather Armstrong says:

    Thank you foe the giveaway! I am a little nervous about zombies though! I can’t even watch a full episode of walking dead!

  15. Thanks for the great giveaway!!:)

  16. Thanks for the giveaway!

  17. Mary Bilowus says:

    Thanks so much for the giveaway! I’m really looking forward to reading this book.

  18. Thank you so much for this awesome giveaway! This book sounds so good. I love apocalyptic stories. 🙂

  19. Soooooo excited for this book!!!

  20. ashley sawyer says:

    Awesome giveaway! cant wait to read this book!!

  21. This book looks so good. Thanks for the giveaway.

  22. Can’t wait to read this book!!

  23. great giveaway

  24. I am excited to read this book and even though I have read some not good comments about what the story is, I will still read it for me to judge it myself. 🙂

  25. Donna Reynolds says:

    Can’t wait to read this it looks so good thank you for the great giveaway.

  26. Oh, this poster would look great on my red wall 😉 fingers crossed and thank you for the giveaway!

  27. Look forward to reading. Thank you for the giveaway.

  28. Looks great Thank you for a awesome giveaway.

  29. cant wait to read this book!

  30. Thanks for the giveaway! Can’t wait to read this book! <3 Jamie <3

  31. Thanks for the giveaway. Can’t wait to read this!

  32. Thanks for the giveaway. I am looking forward and also nervous about this giveaway. LOL

  33. Can’t wait to read it!!

  34. So excited to read this book! Love her other books that I’ve read!

  35. Great giveaway, this is on my top tbr, can’t wait to read this book. Thank you for the giveaway!

  36. Love her!

  37. Love the idea of this one and CAN’T WAIT to read it soon! Thanks!

  38. Looking forward to reading this!

  39. I entered the giveaway and really want to win the signed copy of this book!!

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