I was intrigued by the cover claim on North – that it’s a post-apocalyptic game changer. That’s a pretty big call in this genre. Not a lot changes, really. There’s an apocalypse, and then people have to survive afterwards. Normally there are the ‘good’ people who try to survive while keeping their humanity intact. Then there are the ‘bad’ people who either just don’t cope or see the end of the world as an excuse to shed the last of their civility. And, of course the ‘big bad’ is whatever caused the apocalypse – rising seas, toxicity, meteor crashing into the earth etc.
North is different. The lines are blurred. It’s sometimes hard to tell who is ‘good’ and who is ‘bad’. It feels confusing. But when you’ve lived for decades fearing each new wave of viruses carried on the winds from Renard’s death lab in the North, survival must be the sole concern. There’s little room for morality, as the Southerners have found.
So what would happen if you found a way to finally make it over Renard’s wall, during a 100-year storm, into the North? What would the desire to seek revenge for the deaths of almost everyone you know drive you to do?
This is what North is about.
Be warned – this is a sequel. There’s actually a first book, called South. I didn’t realise this (it’s not clear in the blurb) until I headed over to Goodreads to mark it as ‘Currently reading’. There are a few complaints by readers over there who also didn’t realise this and were extra confused and found it difficult to connect with the characters.
I suspect North would be far less confusing if I’d read South first. I felt like there was enough detail at the start of North for me to understand what was going on in a broad sense. It took a while, however, for me to really understand the relationships between the characters, what made them tick and – most importantly – why they’d decided to come over the wall when they did.
I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out who was a good guy and who was a bad guy. Just when I thought I had a handle on it, a good guy would do a fairly bad thing; or a bad guy would show compassion and empathy.
There’s a lot to like in North, if you’re willing to suspend disbelief. I had a few “Really?” moments. The cure-all mushrooms seemed to push the bounds of plausibility. I’m also not sure the manufacture of viruses plus the distribution of anti-virals in the North via the drinking water really rang true for me. Then again, my mother is a biologist so I’m coming at this with a lifetime of secondhand knowledge on the subject.
I can say that I liked North enough to buy the ebook of South! I’ll let you know how I go…
Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of review.