Strain by Amelia C. Gormley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The last 20% of this book, especially, is really damn amazing. Obviously, all of it is good, but around the 75-80% mark, I started having that feeling of, “Oh, God, noooo. I’ve just gotten completely involved and invested and now it’s almost overrrrr.” That’s one of the best and worst feelings, isn’t it? Because there’s never enough book left at that point.
I’ll admit I had a few niggles about emotional continuity, some logistics, and a few other things, but then I have to ask myself, “Leta, when do you not have niggles?” And the fact is, I do most of the time, so I have to throw those by the wayside and look at the bigger picture. Which is:
a) Amelia Gormley has created a really excellently drawn post-apocalyptic world with believable zombies and a believable fuck-or-die situation. That’s a pretty difficult thing to accomplish and she does it superbly and with her usual beautiful, descriptive writing style.
b) The characters of Rhys and Darius are interesting to watch unfurl, and I only wish there had been more of that. I did feel that there weren’t enough scenes of them together not fucking (or before fucking). More scenes like the shaving scene, for example. But I have a feeling that I might be in the minority on that count. Generally, I’m a fan of more scenes…editors and other readers seem to be fans of less scenes. So, I dunno. But see, that just means I’m greedy. They are interesting characters, and I’d have loved to know more about Darius’s past especially. For a forty-something man who’s lived through hell, we end up knowing relatively little about his life. So, hey, SEQUEL??? I’ll be waiting here. *chinhands*
c) The sex scenes were always hot (though, again, I could’ve handled a bit more non-con or a gangbang, which, uh, frankly, this situation called for, no, SCREAMED for, but we can’t always get what we wannnnnt, sang our friend Mick) and definitely got me a bit glassy-eyed and red-faced. Whew!
d) The emotional crisis near the end was deeply moving and I wish the pace had slowed there just a little to allow me to savor it a bit more. BUT, wow, did she ever rip my heart out (in the good way!!) with that big coming-of-age moment that, uh, no one should have to ever experience. *holds Rhys forever*
3) Loved the diversity in the book. Strong women, people of color, etc, etc. Nicely done. Strong showing!
4) The villain was truly despicable and yet believably so and, even better, not cartoonish because we’ve all (unfortunately) known someone like this dude. Good villains can be hard to draw.
Basically, I loved this book and shifted some responsibilities around to read it in a big, fat hurry because I was so into the world she’d built and so curious about the characters. I would love to see more in this universe, like with anyone at all from this world, and more with Rhys and Darius, too. I highly recommend it and think everyone should start sending Amelia emails demanding a sequel or three. Go forth! Buy and read!
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