Title: White Horse
Author: Alex Adams
Series: White Horse Trilogy (Book 1)
Publication Date: April 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
ISBN-10: 1451642997 (Simon & Schuster/Atria)
ISBN-13: 978-1451642995 (Simon & Schuster/Atria)
Reviewed by: Kristie
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.
Quick & Dirty: Dark and utterly terrifying. White Horse is the disturbing tale of Zoe as she journeys with the last vestiges of hope in a death riddled world.
Opening Sentence: Look at me: I don’t want my therapist to think I’m crazy.
The end of the world begins with a jar. A jar that mysteriously shows up in Zoe’s tightly secured apartment. The jar just sits on a table in middle of her living room. She stares at it in wonder. She doesn’t touch it because it terrifies her. She thinks it is possible she is going crazy but she doesn’t really think she is so she goes to a shrink. Dr. Nick Rose is the psychologist that she goes to with this secret but she tells him the jar came to her in a dream, that it isn’t real. He wants her to study the jar, to open it but she is wary of it. Zoe has her friends look at it believing they may know what it is and what is inside of it.
Cats begin disappearing. Zoe’s friend who lives in the apartment complex soon dies. Zoe begins to fall for Nick but she wants to keep it professional because she likes talking to him. More of Zoe’s friends die. Then isolated outbreaks of people start dying by the same strange disease. Zoe happens to work as a janitor at Pope Pharmaceuticals. She believes there may be a connection to the deaths but she doesn’t have much time to think about it. War begins. Nick and others volunteer for a war that no one wants to fight. It is a strange war, one fought by controlling the weather. The war ends when there aren’t enough people left to fight it.
Zoe embarks on a journey. She is joined by a blind English girl, Lisa, and The Swiss, a mysterious man. Zoe ends up in Italy looking for a boat that will hopefully take her to her ultimate destination. The travel is not easy, oftentimes there is the weather to contend with but also other people to look out for. Zoe often runs into friendly people who just want to help but she is hindered by The Swiss, ruining her plans at every turn. Lisa is a teenaged girl (exact age never revealed). She has been sexually molested by her father and Zoe helps her escape from that life. Lisa is blind and an idiot, she has no problem roaming off on her own, often getting her wounded or in trouble. I often wondered if Lisa wasn’t blind at all, that it was just a ruse for her tragic character.
The Swiss is pure evil. He is an unstoppable bad guy that just has it out for Zoe and you don’t know why. The Swiss just starts out mean to Zoe and Lisa. He has no problems taking what he wants. He hides his evilness at first but Zoe is not stupid. She knows he is up to something. The Swiss often refers to Zoe and Lisa as their country names, America and England. He is impersonal and terrifying.
Zoe knows she is no one special. She doesn’t understand why everything is so focused on her. Everyone around her dies and her journey is sabotaged by an evil man. Zoe doesn’t come off as the strongest person and at times she may be a little selfish but she grows to fit the environment around her. Zoe wants to help save those that she can but death follows in her wake. I really felt for Zoe and the hopeless situation she has been put it. She clings to one last strand of hope to help her through her journey.
The dark and terrifying tone help set the pacing in this book. The world-building is a bit much combining disease, war, weather, Pandora’s Box and genetic manipulation, but I had no problem following it. Bits and pieces are revealed at a time, the narrative switches between the past and present, to reveal how Zoe got where she is and how Zoe is faring on her journey.
Overall, White Horse is a terrifying thriller. This novel is so filled with darkness, hopelessness and despair. It was not a light read, but if you like books about the end of the world then White Horse is a good addition.
“The other two types?” When she squints, trying to figure out what I’m talking about, I remind her she said we were down to three types of people, and the dead ones were just the first.
“Two more types, right. You and me, the living. The ones who aren’t sick. For whatever reason, we’re the lucky ones who seem to be immune to this thing. Or unlucky, maybe. I haven’t decided yet.” She sits up straight, stares at the TV. The president is giving a press conference with what’s left of the press. “And the others.”
“ ‘The others’?”
“Come on, you have to have seen them. The ones who got sick but didn’t die. At least, not straightaway.”
I think about Mike Schultz eating the mice. One day he was sick, the next he was supplementing his diet with test subjects. I think about my father and his Mr. Hyde routine. There’s no way I can twist that to make it sound normal.
“I’ve seen some. How bad is it?”
She nods at the TV, reaches for the remote.
“Human beings are no longer compatible with life.”
The White Horse Trilogy:
1. White Horse
FTC Advisory: Simon & Schuster/Atria provided me with a copy of White Horse. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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