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My Need to Read

I love to explore genre fiction, and while I usually go for books with a romantic thread running through it, I just love great character and world building. And since I can hardly stand to let go of my favorite characters, I like series.

Horizon - Sophie Littlefield (Review originally posted for Book Lovers Inc)Okay, so first things first. There is simply no way I can adequately convey how much this book–and by extension, this trilogy–bowled me over and amazed me. What I mean by that is that the book has so many elements and minor details and memorable bits that I would have to write an full-on essay in order to convey my thoughts.That said, I’ll say this: Horizon was a magnificent trilogy ender. It had the elements that made the first two Aftertime books so powerful: epic plot, grim and chilling situations, highly nuanced characters, and a solid thread of realism–the last of which is remarkable, the book’s being a post-apocalyptic paranormal tale.This story takes up only some months after Rebirth ends (review here) and no more than a year out from the first book, Aftertime (review here). Taken together (as they must), the three stories chronicle the harrowing journey of one Cass Dollar as she struggles to survive not just the external threats of a post-apocolyptic landscape, but also the internal scars of a long, hard, traumatic life, lived when society was “Before.”The characters, particularly Cass, don’t pretend to be heroes. They’re survivors, intensely flawed and prone to grave mistakes and inadequacies….but as Littlefield writes them, they’re beautiful–at the very least, fascinating. (Well…Sammi, the petulant teenager who has some narrative time in the book, tested my damn patience ^_^, but in truth, even her character was honest, a realistic reflection of youthful frustration and growth). The author never once shies away from putting her main cast through fairly impossible situations, and it’s something that kept my eyes glued to the page and had me thinking about the characters well after finishing the book.This specific installment closed out the trilogy with balance and a clear connection to the books that came before it. Much of Horizon‘s strength does come from those two books, so I would highly recommend reading those first before starting this one. Horizon is full of revelations that won’t have the same impact without the context.Along those lines, the connections between characters were so very complex, so multi-layered…the characters hurt each other, they love each other, and it’s hard to swallow sometimes but it’s real and honest. This book is not “a romance,” but the romantic elements were stellar, providing more nuance than one might find in any given book fully classified as “romance.”As with books one and two, this story has a sharp sense of visuals that lend to a high chill factor. The zombies (“Beaters”) are back with a vengeance, and every action scene is intense, creepy, vivid. Another area where the author doesn’t shy away from detail. ^_^Now, I originally had this book set at a rating of 4.5, owing mostly to the fact that the first quarter of the book for some reason was harder to get into, and to the fact that some of the mechanics of the tale pulled me out of the illusion a handful of times. But I couldn’t keep my rating as it was. This book deserves a five for being unique, riveting, exciting, powerful, and totally memorable. I actually went back and reread much of the trilogy right after finishing this book, because I knew any other book that I read would be a bust, through no fault of it’s own. ^_^ Compared to anything outside of the trilogy, it’s phenomenal.If you like dystopians; if you like zombies; if you like anything that is highly intense… do yourself a favor and pick up this book and the two that precede it. Horizon is the perfect end to a perfect series that will stay with you for a very, very long time.Note on the ARC vs. Final copyI've seen some reviews very correctly observe a considerable amount of mechanical issues found in the ARC version of this book. I just wanted to note that I read half of the ARC, stopped due to these issues, and bought a final, post-release copy when it became available. I then read the whole final copy, and compared the two (based on notations in the ARC). The vast majority of the mechanical stuff (grammar, punctuation, spelling, usage, etc.) has been cleaned up. I wonder if a different copy editor was used, or if perhaps the editorial process was rushed, because the end product did still feel a teensy bit different from the previous books. Ultimately not a big deal, particularly in the final version of the book. But wanted to reassure those who'd read the ARC. ^_^