Book Review: Out of the Ashes

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00037]Title: Out of the Ashes [The Ending 3]

Author: Lindsey Fairleigh, Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Adventure

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Hope brought them together, but it’s now fear that drives them…and threatens to tear them apart.
Zoe and her companions succeeded in rescuing Dani from the Colony. But not without sacrifice. Beaten and broken, they head west, determined to leave behind the torment and horrors they experienced in Colorado.

As Dani and Zoe make the perilous trek home to Bodega Bay, they learn that danger can take many forms–other survivors, their friends, even themselves–and that things are rarely what they seem. Zoe is desperate to become the woman she sees in others’ memories, while Dani struggles to conceal damaging secrets, risking losing herself–her humanity–completely. Together, they must rediscover the true meaning of friendship, love, and trust, and learn just how hard they’re willing to fight for what remains of their shattered world.

As relationships are put to the test, second chances are given, and new life emerges, death lurks in the most unlikely of places. To survive, Dani and Zoe must accept that sometimes hope alone isn’t enough.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Let me preface this review by saying that I adore this series as a whole–I’ve been following it from the moment I was sent the ARC of the first book–but this installment to the series wasn’t my favorite. It’s been more than a year since I read the second book in The Ending series, so going into Out of the Ashes by Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue, I had a bit of a hard time sinking in. Like Zoe, one of the main characters of the series, I felt like I had a form of amnesia. I couldn’t remember what had happened previously in the series, particularly near the ending of the second book, and so being dropped into the fast-paced and somewhat alarming beginning of the third book, I was rightfully confused. It took me a while to sort out what was happening and to remind myself of previous plot points… and in that way, I felt very close to Zoe in her struggle with trying to remember her past. It was an unexpected and strange sisterhood between us throughout the book.

Technically speaking, the book was exceedingly well written. I didn’t run into any grammatical errors, typos, or punctuation problems. The characters were all distinct, easy to love or hate respectively, and the story moved along at a steady pace. The setting was rich with detail but not so much as to bog down the narrative, and overall, I enjoyed the book as a whole.

There was only one problem.

I slogged through the book. It was odd how slowly I moved through the story–and it took me till nearly the end of the book to figure out why. There were no big battles or dramatic plot points. The majority of the book was spent delving into the character’s emotional states and the relationships between the members of their group… but very little was spent in any sort of action scene or on any sort of big battle with a nemesis. It was all very interesting–don’t get me wrong.. but by the end of the book, I was left feeling that nothing had happened. As much as I enjoyed spending time with the characters, by the end I was glad to finally be done and to set the book aside and move on. I’m even a little hesitant now to pick up the fourth book, though I will be doing so shortly… this installment just wasn’t as tension filled as I’d come to expect–although, thank goodness, there was a lot more of the romance present that had been missing from the second book in the series.

If you like post-apocalyptic stories filled with special abilities and great characters, I highly recommend this series, even if this wasn’t my favorite out of the bunch.

Book Review: Into the Fire

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Title: Into The Fire [The Ending 2]

Author: Lindsey Fairleigh, Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Adventure, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

In the wake of destruction left behind by the Virus, it took Dani and Zoe months to find each other. But their reunion was short-lived. Dani has been taken, and though little distance separates them, they might as well be worlds apart.
From the moment she hears Dani’s scream, Zoe’s only goal is to save her best friend. She and her companions scramble to come up with a rescue plan, but when a ghost from Jake’s past reappears, lines are blurred, decisions become harder, and secrets are revealed…and some secrets are best left buried. To keep heartache and fear from consuming her, Zoe must cling to her determination. She WILL see Dani again.
Dani awakens inside the final hold-out of civilization: the Colony. Remnants of the former world surround her—electricity, safety, social order—but all is not what it seems. As she faces her most manipulative adversary yet, she loses sight of who she is and who she can trust. Friends become enemies, enemies become allies, and allies will betray her. Dani will have to decide what she’s willing to do and whose lives she’s willing to risk if she is to have any chance of breaking free.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Another solid cover and solid book from Lindsey Pogue and Lindsey Fairleigh. It’s been some months since I read and reviewed the first book of The Ending series, but when I was given a chance to take a look at the sequel, I jumped at the chance. Like it’s predecessor, Into the Fire didn’t disappoint.

The story at it’s heart is about two friends, Dani and Zoe, as they both try to survive the apocalypse with their band of supernaturally-powered refugees. Unfortunately, not only do these two girls have to survive the day-to-day of living in a post-apocalyptic world with no electricity or running water, but there are also crazy cannibalistic creatures, roving bands of thugs and bandits… some with their own unique powers, and last, but not least, so-called scientists and officials who think it’s their god-given duty to experiment on the survivors in an attempt to make a perfect society. These girls have it rough.

Personally, going into this story, it was a little bit of a difficult read. Not because the story was ill-written or slow-paced, but because it had been such a long time in between the books for me (I read them both before they were officially released), it became a push in the first few chapters to remember what had happened in the previous book, and catch up to the story. Which is the main reason I marked this story down to 4 stars rather than 5. Though this is an obvious sequel, and I was warned before-hand that this was not a stand-alone book, I do hold a firm belief that even in a series, there should be some re-telling to help ease readers into subsequent books in a series. This installment to the series, had no re-telling what-so-ever. Books are generally released with large (sometimes a year or more) gap between them, and if you’re like me and you read several books a week, it’s easy to lose track of where you were in a series during that down-time. It would have been nice to have a few hints here and there to remind me of where I left off.

Still, by the third or fourth chapter (minus some momentary lapses where I couldn’t remember who certain characters were), I fell back into the story like clock-work. The book was well-written, fast paced, and the characters were genuine. Before I realized it, I was done, and wishing there were just a few more chapters to enjoy. Alas, I’ll have to wait for the next one. My only true negative complaint, or rather, I’ll call it an observation, was that while present, the romance really took a back-seat in this installment of the story.  I certainly wouldn’t place this firmly in the romance category (I’d tag it as an action/adventure this time around), but there’s still some tidbits in there for people who enjoyed the romance from the first book—Just don’t get your hopes up and skim for the sexual tension.

Overall? I’d recommend it to anyone who liked the first book of the series. It was a fun, action-packed read, and it didn’t let me down. If you enjoy Post-Apocalyptic, Fantasy, or Sci-Fi adventures, you’ll probably like this book, and love the series.

Book Review: After The Ending

ImageTitle: After The Ending

Author: Lindsey Fairleigh, Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Paranormal

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis: When people started getting sick, “they” thought it was just the flu. My roommate, my boyfriend, my family…they’re all gone now. I got sick too. I should have died with them—with the rest of the world—but I didn’t. I thought witnessing the human population almost disappear off the face of the earth was the craziest thing I’d ever experience. I was so wrong. My name is Dani O’Connor, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.

The Virus changed everything. The world I knew is gone, and life is backwards. We’ve all had to start over. I’ve been stripped of my home, my dreams…all that is me. I’m someone else now—broken and changed. Other survivors’ memories and emotions haunt me. They invade my mind until I can no longer separate them from my own. I won’t let them consume me. I can’t. My name is Zoe Cartwright, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.

We’ve been inseparable for most of our lives, and now our friendship is all we have left. The aftermath of the Virus has stranded us on opposite sides of the United States. Trusting strangers, making sacrifices, killing—we’ll do anything to reach one another. Fear and pain may be unavoidable, but we’re strong…we’re survivors. But to continue surviving in this unfamiliar world plagued by Crazies and strange new abilities, we have to adapt. We have to evolve.

And more than anything, we have to find each other.

WARNING – SPOILERS WILL ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book came very close to a five star rating from me. Very close. I found it very engaging, I loved the variety of characters and locations, and before I knew it, I was sucked into the book. Unfortunately, there were just a handful of things that had me making this a four star rating rather than a five.

This story at it’s heart, is about two girls – best friends – separated from each other and learning to deal with the aftermath of a devastating plague that kills off 90% of the Earth’s population. Each chapter switches back and forth between the two friends as we follow along their journey through illness, recovery, death, looting, and just plain surviving. As the girls desperately try to meet up, they exchange e-mails back and forth, and each tries to deal with their own obstacles in surviving.

Although it was a little hard to get used to in the beginning, I found the e-mail writing between Dani and Zoe to be clever, and interesting. The story would have been fine without the recounting of the scenes we’d already seen, but I think it helped to engross me as a reader to see these two girls communicate with each other through this difficult time. It really gave me a sense of their strong bond as friends, and their concern for one another.

For the most part, I loved almost everything about this story to be honest. It was a very different take on a post-apocalyptic novel than what I’m used to. I’ve read a lot of these types of books, but usually we follow one character or one group in their journey to survive. In this case, we got two complete groups with different personalities and struggles.

It was fascinating. I also really enjoyed the paranormal aspect of this book and how the survivors of the plague started mutating to gain super-human abilities. It was fun trying to guess what type of ability would pop up next and how they’d handle it – and even learn to use these abilities to their advantage. It also helped to create some truly evil villain characters that had me cheering on the two friends as they struggled against them.

Now, there were a few things that bothered me about this book that I feel I need to point out. The first being that the girls’ “voices” were very similar if not identical. Without the labels at the beginning of the chapters I wouldn’t have been able to tell the two apart even though the authors kept reminding me how different they were in personality. I didn’t see that big of a difference to be frank.

Second, there were some unfortunate corollaries between the villains and struggles between the two groups that I think could have been written better. One group would deal with crazies, then the other group would deal with crazies. One group would meet an enslaving-evil-female… the second group would meet an enslaving-evil-female. It was predictable and I would have liked to have seen a little more differences in the obstacles the girls faced.

And last: I really hated the ending. For some reason I was expecting the story to go on for at the very least another chapter or two after Dani and Zoe finally met back up. Instead, it ended very abruptly, and It didn’t feel like anything was really wrapped up. There are a lot of mysteries and situations that are still open. In fact, the only thing that -was- resolved, was that the girls met back up. It wasn’t a satisfying ending to me.

Still, overall, I really enjoyed the book, and the few things that bothered me about it weren’t enough to diminish the entertainment value. I’m certainly interested to see how the next book in the series will turn out. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys post-apocalyptic settings in novels, or enjoys paranormal stories, romance, and endearing events. There were a lot of really good moments in this book between friends and couples, and the authors did a fantastic job of making me indecisively jump back and forth between the many love interests in the book. They were all so interesting and adorable in their own way!  I certainly enjoyed reading this amazingly entertaining journey with Zoe and Dani.