Released by Megan Duncan had me at hello (yes, I did go there). Honestly, from the first page I was completely hooked into the story. The plot, the writing, the characters - everything just worked. You know when you reading a book and suddenly you look at the clock and hours have gone by? You completely forget to eat, to go to the bathroom and heaven help anyone who tries to talk to you - you just cannot put the book down. That's exactly how Released was for me folks.
Granted, that's probably because there is nothing about the book setup that I didn't like. I for one, have a huge weak spot for post-apocalyptic stories, especially ones that feature tough heroines. Duncan manages to keep things fresh by trading the traditional zombie villains in for a truly terrifying demon set. She does such a wonderful job creating the different demons and all I can say is I hope I never come across one.
Continuing on that note, the world building is absolutely superb. I could envision Abby's world perfectly, down to every last detail. The main characters of the story are also well-developed and easy to like. There is Abby - a seventeen-year-old girl who tries to keep a brave face on in the world that is crumbling around her; Carter, her older brother who acts as the ringleader of the teenage band, Max, Abby and Carter's longtime friend and finally Taya, an unlikely but interesting addition the group picks up along their journey. The four main characters are all diverse and they each add a different flavor into the mix. It is interesting to see how they each deal with their feelings and I cannot wait to see how they progress in the upcoming sequel.
The pacing was spot on; things progressed quickly, but never felt rushed. I also enjoyed the fact that the author didn't water down things too much - it's a messy, gritty story and it reads accordingly. There are definitely elements of the story that are not for the faint of heart, but that's to be expected with a post-apocalyptic story that involves demons taking over the earth.
Honestly, I do not really know what else to say - besides telling you that I adored Released. If you enjoy post-apocalyptic stories and/or strong female leads, then give Released a chance. I would double-recommend it to fans of Zombieland (the movie) and Hollowland (by Amanda Hocking).