Saturday, April 28, 2012

Review: White Horse ~ by Alex Adams

white horse

Review by Shellie for: White Horse ~ by Alex Adams

The first in a planned trilogy, it’s a stream of consciousness styled apocalyptic tale with alternating timeframes. The novel features an illness that horrifically decimates and changes the human population, and an intriguing mythic thread with a heroine’s journey - where a young survivor travels on a heartfelt mission to find the father of her unborn child.

About:   Zoe is strong, intelligent and reflective. In transition, she is working at a local research facility where she does janitorial work while trying to figure out what she will do with her life. In the process she visits a male therapist in an attempt to find herself and to figure out what appears to be a slight problem she is having around a jar that has “magically” appeared in her apartment - which the therapist thinks is in her imagination. She is at once scared, curious and concerned, about this metaphoric Pandora's box.

When everyone starts becoming ill and dying from similar symptoms, with the survivors changing bizarrely, Zoe remains unaffected physically. Yet emotionally she struggles to contain some part of a greater humanity while many that are left are loosing theirs. She is left with one option, which is to head out on a heroic journey to Greece to find her unborn child’s father. During her journey she finds the most animalistic, insane, dark yet conversely self-sacrificing aspects of human nature.

Thoughts:   Although I really do not like to compare new novels to older very popular ones, this was very reminiscent of The Road by Cormac McCarthy. You can’t have the world fall apart without loosing your mind, however strong the character, which both books exemplify. However, White Horse has a strong female heroine (which I really liked and could relate to), rather than a male, a fabulous mythic thread that McCarthy’s book did not, and some interesting insight into human nature - which is a key aspect to any good apocalyptic fiction and an element of both books.

Thinking about the author’s writing, it’s insightful and has unusual language. However, its “stream of consciousness” style and alternating timeframes sometimes made it feel choppy and confusing. I had to struggle to keep track of events and puzzled over whether what was happening was Zoe’s “stream of consciousness” delusional dream experiences and imaginings or if it was actually happening. Though I should mention that my version was an ARC so this “choppiness” may have been edited out; or perhaps it’s a trope used to create a surreal feel. I am thinking the later, since at the end of the world even the strong are going to loose their minds, even if it’s only partially.

Beyond my quibble, the best part of the novel and one which I really really liked was a spectacular thread that contained myth. I would have loved to see more of a discernable link in the first three quarters of the novel to the disease and its name, but then perhaps the book would have become trite? However, this is a terrific story with some exceptional elements. If you enjoy good apocalyptic stories and/or have an interest in mythology, this will be great read for you. In fact I think it may be one of those books which will be a perfect book club selection and that is probably worth a second read. I am curious what Alex Adams will do with the mythic element in the next two planned books for the series – Red Horse and Pale Horse. Despite my small concerns I enjoyed the novel and think it deserves a 4 star rating – definitely recommended.

White Horse by Alex Adams; (ARC); Atria/Emily Bestler Books; April 17th, 2012.  It’s the first book in a planned trilogy.

Alex Adams is from New Zealand but now resides in Oregon, US. This is her first book.

Thanks for reading!


ThePageTurner said...

I have this ARC as well, I might have to bump this one up.

Unknown said...

I am thinking you're gonna love this one - Rose. It's so much like The Road. Which as I recall you just loved.

I hope its a five star for you.

Hey check out the finished book at your book store to see if the versions are different. I would be curious to know???

Have a great weekend - hope your getting comfy in your new home!

roro said...

i love the sound of this book
pretty horse lol
gr8 review

ChristasBooks said...

I also really enjoyed this one. I think the choppiness kept me on my toes and a little disoriented but it was good because it really helped me relate to how disoriented Zoe must have felt. Can't wait for the sequel.



I think jumping from YA apocalyptic to adult is a huge jump for me. The difference was one I wasn't prepared for and I'm sorry, I totally missed the mythic element. I feel dumb, what does the White Horse symbolize other than death. Isn't that what the four horsemen of the apocalypse rode?

As I said, think this one sailed right over my head. I did get the Pandora's Box reference, but that was hardly applicable.

You review is wonderful. I am quite sure you will get an ARC of the second book! I thought it was good, but just not my thing.


Unknown said...

Roro -
There are three other books coming up and they have some sort of a horse theme... if you like horses.

Thank you for the compliment!

Christa -
Yep I have a tough time with the "stream of consciousness" writing style at times. (Especially when I am tired.) But I think it was an important way to write the book since it did make it feel like the main character was very stressed.

Yes I am looking forward to seeing what the author does with the mythology in the next books.

Heather -
Thank you for the compliment. I have my eyes open for and around myth. It's a big topic for me since I love it. Besides reading the little piece of paper the publicist sends to us really helps seeing some of those extra aspect. (big grin)

But hey - I missed that Zoe's partner had two hearts in the end? did you read the arc or the real copy? Goodness knows if I will get the second arc, but I would love too.

Thanks for the note and the comment!

Amanda Makepeace said...

This one is already on my TBR list. I'm hoping to read it this summer. Thank you for the head's up on the stream of consciousness style--I always need to be in the right mindset to read a book like that. I loved The Road, so I bet I will love this one too.

Unknown said...

Amanda -
I think you will enjoy this one. I will be interested to know what you think about it and if you like it as much as McCarthy's book or more.I am suspecting more.

Thanks for the comment.

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