The Other Life, by Susanne Winnacker
Themes: dystopia, futuristic, courage, romance.
Synopsis: Fifteen year old Sherry has been trapped in a sealed bunker with her family for three years, ever since the government released a rabies virus which spun out of control. Humans became rabid, transforming into grotesque, animal-like creatures. Wild and savage, the weepers as they were known, hunted down other humans, either eating them, or infecting them and thus turning them into weepers too.
Sherry and her family have not seen the light of day or another human for three years. Their period of waiting in safety draws to an end when their food supply runs out. Sherry and her dad dare to leave the bunker in search of food. Stepping out of the sealed door, they find an eerily silent and empty world. However, when they drive to a bombed-out Wal Mart, Sherry and her dad are ambushed by weepers. Sherry’s dad is captured and Sherry almost follows the same fate, but instead she is rescued by the strong, heroic Joshua.
Joshua takes Sherry back to ‘safe-haven’, a community of survivors living in the hills. From there, Joshua plans a rescue-mission to save Sherry’s father. A roller-coaster of adventure follows, mixed with death, daring and romance.
My review: If any parents or teachers are struggling to motivate reluctant readers, this is the book to give them! I had the same addiction to reading this book as I do when I’m watching a DVD series of 24… it is 315 pages of action packed, nail-biting drama. If the book had a sound-track, it would nearly all be suspense-building music which draws you to the edge of your seat.
The story is told through Sherry’s words, but boy readers will be equally gripped as girl readers, for Sherry is tough and courageous. She has to adjust quickly to a new set of values, where survival of the fittest rules, and where she must be prepared to shoot and kill.
Joshua is Sherry’s hero from the moment he rescues her. He is somewhat a stereotypical hero of teen-romance, yet in the chaotic world of fighting weepers, I found myself appreciating the uncomplicated nature of his growing romance with Sherry. Joshua is soft and compassionate, yet he also has a wild determination to seek revenge on the weepers that destroyed his family. This desire for revenge is Joshua’s strength but also his weakness, for it can cloud his reasoning, driving him to recklessness.
The themes in the book are not hugely complex or life-changing. The story motors along powered by adrenaline rather than thought-provoking issues. By the end of the book, I found I wasn’t hugely inspired or challenged by the story. Perhaps that is because the world created by Susanne Winnacker is imaginary rather than a real-life situation.
The Other Life is also slightly predictable I could have foretold the ending after reading the first few chapters. However, that did not detract from my inability to put the book down.
Overall, I would definitely recommend reading The Other Life, even if it is for a pure adrenaline-rush! If you know of any young, reluctant readers, send them a copy and I am sure they will be instantly hooked.