Kaelyn and her family have recently moved back to “the island” where she grew up before moving to Toronto five years earlier. The story is told in first-person POV through Kaelyn’s eyes, in the form of journal entries to her friend Leo. The actual story behind Kaelyn and Leo’s relationship is revealed pretty gradually, most coming in the second half of the book.
The first 1/3 of the book moves quite slowly. Ms. Crewe works hard at building the character of Kaelyn and her attempts to re-integrate into her former friendships and explains her relationships with her parents, brother, uncle and niece. The disease also starts slowly, infecting a few people at a time and kept pretty much on the down-low by her father (who is also the chief doctor and an infectious diseases specialist at the island hospital). As the disease starts to spread, the government imposes quarantine and effectively leaves the island to its own devices.
After reading through this first part of the book, I was firmly sitting on four stars – initially Kaelyn’s voice was a little immature and idealistic for a 16 year old, and I anticipated that the rest of the story would continue in those dumbed-down teenage niceties and all the important, loveable characters surviving to fight another day.
And then I got to the 1/3 mark, and all of my opinions changed. Kaelyn developed into a more mature, emotional and involved character – and the story started to get gritty and dark. Without giving too much away (if I haven’t already, sorry!), there’s no happy ending to this story – characters that you fully expect to be alive and kickin’ well into the next book are suddenly no longer there (through a variety of causes), and Kaelyn is literally defending her life and the lives of those she loves. The origins and causes of the disease are further expanded upon and the story continues to get darker and darker, right up to the very last pages.
The writing IS simplistic, but it fits perfectly with the pace and tone of the story – over-describing details would have stopped the heart-attack-edge-of-your-seat-I-may-just-cry tension and made the story far less believable. Although I understand journal-style books can be off-putting to some readers, it does fit perfectly with the book.
In conclusion, I’ve struggled to rate this book. As I said earlier the first 1/3 was heading for a 4-star review, but the remaining 2/3 was solidly in 5-star territory and I’ll be looking forward to the next book in the series.(less)
I read Ami McKay's first book, The Birth House a couple of years ago and completely fell in love with her writing. Historical Fiction is a genre I've...moreI read Ami McKay's first book, The Birth House a couple of years ago and completely fell in love with her writing. Historical Fiction is a genre I've always enjoyed and when I find an author I love, I stick with them. And after recently finishing a book that was about another young woman being forced into prostitution, I was even more excited to read The Virgin Cure.
The story of Moth is moving and disturbing, but she is such a strong, determined character that there's no victim mentality here. For a girl who has endured so much in her short life, her strength really shines through in her story, despite her tender age and naivety.
Moth's journey through the seedier and crazier parts of New York and society, from the slums to servitude in a rich woman's house, to brothels and travelling carnivals is further enriched by the inclusion of newspaper clippings, magazine articles and various other tidbits of information that relate directly to Moth's story and also give more insight into the lifestyles and opinions of that age.
Dr. Sadie's inclusion was necessary, but wasn't quite in proportion to the rest of the book. I would liked to have seen either more of her story, or have it limited to the journal entries only - it just felt a little unbalanced in the scheme of the story. The ending also felt a little bit neat - not everything is resolved, but there was a lack of resistance on the part of one of the characters which didn't seem completely realistic, given their investment in Moth.
The Virgin Cure is written in the same compelling, lyrical voice of Ms. McKay's previous book and it completely evokes the feeling of being THERE in the story. If you love historical fiction, or unconventional heroines, I can definitely recommend The Virgin Cure.
Zombie Night in Canada is one of those zombie reads that captures everything I love about this genre. The main characters are normal people thrown int...moreZombie Night in Canada is one of those zombie reads that captures everything I love about this genre. The main characters are normal people thrown into a terrifying, overwhelming situation and proceed to make the best of a bad lot, all the while dodging, ducking and diving around the increasing zombie threat.
Familiar pop-culture references (for example zombie movies, blogs and Twitter) make the story feel more realistic - after all, if rumours of a zombie virus surfaced, chances are you are going to read about it on Twitter before you see the nightly news! There is a focus on military tactics, and the available firearms and artillery is examined closely, but despite this being something I don't enjoy in zombie books, it was pretty unobtrusive on my reading experience.
Personally I found there were three things that I love in zombie books that were done exceedingly well:
- Although the book is set in Canada, this is not the sole focus - the fates of other countries worldwide are also expanded upon (I loved the idea of how the Netherlands isolated themselves from the threat). This gives a real feeling of 'global apocalypse' rather than the localisation of the vast majority of zombie books.
- There are short 'flashes' of what happens to people in different situations - police, criminals, average people - that are incredibly believable and deeply shocking.
- The unique ideas explored in the last 10% of the book - although I have read about this in other zombie books, this is by far the best implementation of the idea I have ever read.
The one and only complaint that I have is that some of the characters were a little flat - although they are distinguishable from each other, they lack a unique quality that made me really care about them, but they were certainly realistic and the dialogue was never stilted or fake.
For a self-published book, Zombie Night in Canada is extremely well written and edited - every part of the story is riveting and necessary.