When Dr. Elliott Drake wakes from a mysterious fifty-year sleep, the world as he knew it is gone. Cities are now desolate, and civilization is controlled by deadly immortals. Stranger still is Elliott's extraordinary new "gift"--he has the power to heal, but it comes with fatal consequences.
A woman with a past . . .
Jade barely escaped the immortals and is now hell-bent on revenge. She trusts no one . . . until Elliott. His piercing gaze and tempting touch shatter her defenses, but the handsome doctor seems to have dangerous secrets of his own. Is it safe to trust him with her heart?
If they are to survive in this dark new world, Jade and Elliott must work together to fight the forces that take them beyond danger.
I somehow managed to score an ARC of this book (it magically appeared in my mailbox) and I was jumping for joy. Thanx to Kati, I became a huge fan of Colleen Gleason's Gardella series, so when I heard (probably from Kati *g*) that she was going to be writing a new series under a new name, Joss Ware, I had to know more.
This book is sufficiently grim and creepy in the sense that the world essentially "ended" 50 years ago and what's left is nothing but mass destruction and perhaps a few thousand people. There are no movie theatres, no iPhones (sob!), or Starbucks. The cities have crumbled, and what's left over are rundown hotels, rusted and useless vehicles, and the bare essentials. Most of the people living were not around at the time of "the Change", so they don't know what life was like back in 2010. But Lou Waxnicki knows, and so does Dr. Elliott Drake, who along with some of his buddies are the few remaining survivors. In the six months since they've woken from their Rip Van Winkle nap, these men have tried coming to terms with no longer having the modern conveniences and carefree lifestyles they once knew. Even Elliott, as a doctor, doesn't have access to the medical supplies and equipment that was such an integral part of his profession. Things are different now.
One night the men come across a group of teenagers who are being attacked by gangas, or zombies. They are flesh-eating creatures who only come out at night, who moan incoherently and reek something awful. Though not very coordinated and unable to climb without the benefit of stairs, they are also massive creatures with glowing orange eyes and sharp teeth and claws, and they crave human flesh like nobody's business. The only way to kill a ganga is to destroy their brains. (Braaaaiiiinnnssss!) Just thinking about these smelly, vile creatures is enough to give me nightmares.
Anyway, during the attack, Elliott and the men encounter Jade, a beautiful woman who comes riding in on a horse to save the day. After the attack, Elliott realizes she's been injured, and he attends to her wounds, only to discover his gift of healing has some serious side effects.
Elliott and the other guys, along with the rescued teens, make their way back to Envy, where a community of humans now make their home in a broken-down Las Vegas hotel. Elliott learns about the Strangers, a group of immortals who seek to control the humans, and more about the mysterious gangas. The humans are secretly trying to find a way to defeat the Strangers, and use covert technology and the skills of two of the original survivors to carry out their plan. Working together with Jade and this misfit group of rebels, Elliott begins to realize that this is now his life, and it's incredibly overwhelming. He tries to deal with the reprecussions of his gift, and his growing feelings for a secretive woman who seems to have every man falling at her feet, and manage not to get killed in the process....
This book sorta reminded me of the movie 2012, when the world turns against itself and starts self-destructing. Only in this instance, the destruction was not the result of Mother Nature, but by a deadly group of immortals who have definite plans for the humans. Some modern conveniences still exist, and I found it amusing at all the references to the pop culture of 2010 or earlier. There are no new CD's from current rock bands anymore, no DVD's. It was rather depressing to think about that. But the people who survived and who were born after the Change didn't have any choice. This is what their world was now, and they had to come to terms with it, which I think they did admirably well, especially the guys who'd been "sleeping" for fifty years.
It also reminded me of the Resident Evil movies too, because of the gangas. These creatures are controlled by the immortals, and they are many, monstrous, and constantly craving the flesh of humans. Their one weakness, other than dying by destroying their brains, seems to be bright light, so they only come out at night. I think zombies are the creepiest of creatures, and definitely not sexy at all, so this would definitely top the list as one of my nightmares.
I don't watch "Lost", nor have I see "I Am Legend" but I'm sure the premise was inspired by the t.v. show & movie (yes, actually after visiting Joss' website I see that it is) but this series is different enough you don't feel like you're reading an exact take of either of those two storylines.
I liked Elliott and Jade very much, and it was completely believable that these two people would fall in love with each other in only a matter of days. Life is different now, harder to hold onto, so everything is more intense, more focused. The little things that held people back don't exist anymore. The chances of surviving in this brave, new world are not as high, especially now that Elliott has used his gift several times and the danger becomes greater everytime.
I felt sad at the loss of the "old" world. I cannot imagine living without the modern conveniences of today, and it must have been unbearable for Elliott and his buddies to wake up to such destruction and waste, their loved ones gone, their security vanished. I am dying to know more about how the other characters have dealt with these abrupt and jarring changes since they awoke, and I hope Ms. Ware will address it in future books, especially since there are more characters I want to find out about.
I remember seeing a brief review about this series stating that they (the reviewer) weren't sure there was enough of a backstory to continue the series. However I don't see it that way at all. There are still so many unanswered questions I have; about Elliott's abilities, about Lou Waxnicki and his brother Theo, about all that happened 50 years ago and in between.
So if you like stories set in a post-apocalyptic world and loved the Gardella series, then you definitely have to read these books! I was on the edge of my seat reading this book, because Ms. Ware doesn't not shrink away from those difficult decisions. This world is not cushy and safe, and sometimes innocent people get hurt. There's not always a knight in shining armor charging in just in time to save the day. The book is not overly violent, but it doesn't shy away from it, which is extremely believable within the frame of the story, and I can appreciate that.
The one complaint that immediately comes to mind is that I wish there would have been more "on air" time with Preston, because he was a true villain and though we get an idea of what he's capable of, it would have been a little edgier to have him make more of an appearance. Other than that, this book kept me interested right from page one, and the more I discovered, the more I wanted to know. I'm completely hooked. And if that weren't reason enough to love it, Ms. Ware manages to throw in a few wildly sexy scenes to satisfy the romance lover in us all. And they totally fit in with what's happening in that story at that given time No sexxin' while the gangas are chasing after them. Smart characters, are Elliott and Jade. Gotta love that.
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****