Review: Red Hill by Jamie McGuire

November 14, 2013 Book Reviews 12 ★★★★½

Review: Red Hill by Jamie McGuireRed Hill by Jamie McGuire
Published by Atria, Simon & Schuster on October 1st 2013
Pages: 368
Format: eArc
Source: Edelweiss

When 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?

Red Hill grabs you from page one and doesn’t let go until its stunning conclusion. This is #1 New York Times bestselling author Jamie McGuire at her unforgettable best.

RED HILL was a departure for the reader I am today and a return to my reading habits as a teen when thrillers and horror fiction were my go-to reads. Just thinking about this book makes my heart pound in my chest; it was truly a fantastic read and not at all what I was expecting. As much as I love THE WALKING DEAD I wasn’t sure how a book about zombies would play out and my theories and expectations were simply blown away by Jamie McGuire’s beautiful prose and amazing characters.

RED HILL is told in third person and has three POV’s. Right there alarm bells started ringing as it’s hard enough keeping track of a duel pov novel unless the characterisation is stellar and distinct and third person can make things especially difficult to connect with the characters. Not in the case of RED HILL, Scarlet, Miranda and Nathan were well defined and each voice and personality clearly unique. Usually I prefer one POV over another but McGuire created such richly veined characters that it was impossible not to like each and more importantly to sympathise and identify with them.

Scarlet was an amazing character that never gave up or let the hopelessness that comes with the end of the world pervade her belief that all would be well. Separated from her daughters at the beginning of the book, she never loses sight of her goal to reunite with them.

Nathan who has been a player in a loveless marriage for longer than he cares to admit is world weary. Finding himself and his daughter abandoned by his wife as the crisis takes hold, he must put aside his dissatisfaction with life in order to be the one person his daughter can rely on.

Miranda who is young and spunky, thinks she has it all figured out. Trained on a diet of zombie horror movies since she was a kid, she and her sister and friends believe as long as they stay one step ahead of the virus rampaging through humanity and showing no mercy they will be fine.

Scarlet, Nathan and Miranda all have one goal – Get to Red Hill. How they make their way there differs greatly in both methods and personal sacrifices.

At first it seemed that the three POV’s had absolutely nothing in common but suddenly a hint or clue in one POV would flash recognition to another and slowly and seamlessly the stories intertwined into one cohesive plot. The pacing in this book was spot on and never let up from the first mention of the killer disease to the reports of people behaving strangely and I was gripped from start to finish. This book is a stark reminder that tales of human kindness in the face of adversity and disaster can sometimes need “fairy” as a prefix. There is a brutality that emerges and takes hold of even the gentlest person when the need to survive takes over and is revealed in this book with startling intensity. It’s not polite or kind, and stepping over bodies instead of going around them without a second glance quickly becomes the norm with compassion becoming a word forgotten to many.

Equally however RED HILL is a reminder of what it is to be human. It is a haunting tale of hope, loss and love in the face of desperation, terror and apocalypse. Its vivid and chilling depiction of the end of the world places you squarely in the shoes of its characters and your stomach clenches as the breathtaking sense of panic takes hold of you just as it seizes the characters. McGuire really plays with your emotions and proves with her story how merciless and brutal life is even without an apocalypse on your doorstep.

My one gripe is there was a distinct lack of romance for almost two thirds of the book which I suppose is to be expected as there are more important things to think about like survival however when it does kick in as the characters begin to settle into their new environment and perspective I did love it although McGuire did completely shatter my heart and I cannot quite forgive her for a certain 3% of the book where she threw shock after shock at me thoroughly traumatising me!

A beautifully written story of what it means to be human, one’s capacity for courage and the sacrifices that must be made in order to retain a sense of self in times of strife and terror, RED HILL was stunning, captivating and unputdownable.



12 Responses to “Review: Red Hill by Jamie McGuire”

  1. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Oooh sounds like a fantastic zombie read, that pulled off those 3 povs. I like the way the author weaved them together. I’ve got this one to read on my shelf, your post encourages me to pick it up sooner! I love twisty reads.

    • Danielle

      Yes I can’t wait for you to read it! I loved how all the little hints came together. It really was unexpected how good it was and how much I loved it!

  2. Hazel @ Stay Bookish

    Beautiful review, Danielle! I saw this book at the store last time and I put it down and wrote it off just because I wasn’t as happy as I wanted to be with Beautiful Disaster, which I loved and disliked at the same time. (It was a 3 star read for me.) Now I’ve realized the error of my ways. I’ll have to get a copy sometime ‘cos this sounds like a great read! 🙂

    • Danielle

      Aww thanks Hazel! I know what you mean, I was hesitant to pick this up because of BD but it’s sooo different, such a departure from her other books. Definitely give it a try! 🙂

  3. Jessica@Lovin' Los Libros

    Wow. This book is getting such amazing praise! It’s not my usual read and especially after you said romance isn’t very prevalent (which I expected being a survival story) I was a little hesitant to start this. But after reading yours and a few other trustworthy opinions- I’m definitely picking this up soon.

  4. Trish @ Between My Lines

    I’m still not sure, the zombies are putting me off! I want to read something by this author but I have a feeling that Beautiful Disaster will work better for me. If I like the writing style and I think I will then I’ll reconsider this one! After all I loved Warm Bodies despite myself :O

    • Danielle

      Luckily it’s more the threat of the zombies rather than actually dealing with them. It’s more about humanity and how it deals with crisis. Beautiful Disaster is good fun, it took a turn about 50% in that was a bit silly but overall it’s a good book. This one has a more “literary” feel to it which was a happy discovery, I think you’d enjoy the thrilling aspect of this equally with the romance of BD! 🙂

  5. Jess Hearts Books

    You’ve summed up this book so well in your review! I loved all three of the characters POV’s and loved how their stories interlinked with time. This was so much more than your typical zombie book and I enjoyed it a lot more than I’d anticipated. Really glad you loved this too!

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