Title: White Horse
Author: Alex Adams
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (December 18, 2012)
The world has ended, but her journey has just begun. Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the president of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places. [Goodreads]
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ReviewI was instantly drawn to this book by the cover. Then, I read the description and was sold. I have rarely found books these days that blatantly feature someone in their 30s, and that’s where I am, in my 30s, so this instantly sounding like something I should read.
The story is told only from Zoe’s perspective, with her insights, reactions, feelings, and thoughts. I like books that are told in the first-person point of view. I like that the readers doesn’t have to interpret how the person is feeling, it’s right there on the page. This was the right way to tell the story of White Horse.
What I didn’t appreciate was Adams’s writing style. It was a little choppy and disjointed. There were too many times when I had to reread a sentence, paragraph, or page because I wasn’t at the same place Adams was. Others bloggers have said they like the short, quick sentence structure, because that’s the way they think sometimes [Asheley ;)], but I felt more confused about what was going on than I should have. This was a very complex story with two different story lines (more on this later) and I had to focus a lot to keep pace. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I just wasn’t convinced this was the most effective way to tell the story [of course I am not a writer, and Adams’s book was published, and the second in the series is coming out later this year, so does my opinion really matter? Probably not a whole lot.] And I don’t mind investing brain power in a story, but even with my extra effort, I had a hard time.
As I mentioned, there’s a lot going on here. The story takes place in two different time periods referred to as “Then” and “Now.” We don’t’ know when these actually are, so I viewed this through a modern perspective. We switch back and forth between Then and Now multiple times per chapter. This, coupled with the way Adams wrote (remember the paragraph above), often left me grasping at air trying to remember when I was reading in, especially if I had come back to the book after taking a break from reading. My savior was in the characters that differed between Then and Now. I like that a little about each time period was revealed in small chunks, but this too was trouble at times.
For much of the book I was trying to figure out what White Horse actually was, what it was doing, why the world was the way it was. As things unfold, I was able to put the puzzle together, but only after large chucks of story took place. I was around halfway or a little more through the book before Adams really told me what was up. And it was a humdinger. And I still had questions, even after it was revealed.
Another interesting part of the book is that there are some parallels to Greek Mythology. And honestly, if it weren’t for Rick Riordan and discussion questions at the end of White Horse, I wouldn’t have picked up on some of this. Some is very obvious, some isn’t. Mythology isn’t my thing. I get confused about who is who and what is what. But regardless, it was a nice addition. I also appreciated the Book of Revelation end-of-the-world tie-ins (which I didn’t catch until it was spelled out for me!).
There is a thing that takes place in Then, that defines, for the most part, Now and what Zoe does. This thing can’t really be talked about, but let me just say now, that I had a hard time believing what happened with this thing. I don’t think that, no matter how powerful or connected they are, that the thing could have actually happened. And this combined with another governmental thing put the world in the tailspin it’s in. I would have liked for Adams to camp out on the governmental thing a little more. I understand the story is about Zoe and her survival, but the little descriptions given on both things left me going, “Huh?” I’m not talking scientific research need-a-PhD-to-understand-it, just a little more fleshed out thoughts on these things.
The Swiss, I hope you hate him as much as I did. I wanted him to be hit by karmic bus the instant I met him. Of all the unbelievable stuff, he was the most unbelievable. Very much a caricature of a misogynistic man. Even knowing what all he had gone through to get to where he was, I just didn’t buy into him.
Then the final chapters of the book, when redemption is found, was too…gosh, how do I say this without sounding too negative. With all that White Horse did to humanity, I find it highly unlikely that what happened in the end would have happened. Call me a skeptic if you must, but I’m just not buying it. There was too much feel-good at the end, and this is not a feel-good kind of book. And I can’t talk about it any more because this would be a big spoiler for you all.
Overall, White Horse is very dark, very depressing, even from the get-go. The more you know, the more you root for Zoe, but the darker and more depressing the book gets. It’s a very unique apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic story. There were parts that felt like other stories or TV shows [ever watch The Walking Dead?] that lend some credibility to Adam’s take on dystopian.
For all the questions that weren’t answered in full, for the parts that I didn’t like, for the writing style that didn't speak to me, for all it’s shortcomings, for all the Hate-orade I drank before writing this review, I still really enjoyed this story. This is the first of a trilogy, so I might read Red Horse when it comes out at the end of the summer. Fans of dystopian/apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic should give this a shot.
Get to reading,
Lovers of dystopian/apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic and thriller/suspense genres
Late teen and up for some mature content, violence, and gore.