Author: Sophie Littlefield
Genre: Adult, Dystopian, Post-Apocalypse, Zombies om nom nom
Publication Date: July 2011 (expected)
Synopsis: The end of the world was just the beginning.
Civilization has fallen, leaving California an unforgiving, decimated place. But Cass Dollar beat terrible odds to get her missing daughter back—she and Ruthie will be happy.
Yet with the first winter, Cass is reminded that happiness is fleeting in Aftertime. Ruthie retreats into silence. Flesh-eating Beaters still dominate the landscape. And Smoke, Cass’s lover and strength, departs on a quest for vengeance, one that may end him even if he returns.
The survivalist community Cass has planted roots in is breaking apart, too. Its leader, Dor, implores Cass to help him recover his own lost daughter, taken by the totalitarian Rebuilders. And soon Cass finds herself thrust into the dark heart of an organization promising humanity’s rebirth—at all costs.
Bound to two men blazing divergent paths across a savage land, Cass must overcome the darkness in her wounded heart, or lose those she loves forever.
☆: 3/5 – a solid followup to the first book.
Review: Okay, I’ll admit it – I was more than a little disappointed in how this sequel was executed. There was a great deal of omitted information in terms of what happened between the end of the first book and the start of the second, which is going to be released in novella format in July, right before the release of this book. Hopefully reading that will fill in the blanks, but until then, I’ll review based on what I know.
I knew that Cass had some serious issues with sexual abuse and hypersexuality as a result of that abuse, as well as being an alcoholic, but I felt that Littlefield made her go a little too far off the deep end with Smoke’s departure for revenge over staying with her. Perhaps it’s because I’m not in a desperate post-apocalyptic situation with zombies wanting to nom my face off, but I felt like she really overreacted to the entire thing. She knew that Smoke’s hunger for revenge might overwhelm his love for her, and yet she took the chance to be with him anyway. I’m not blaming the victim, but had she wanted to hold onto Smoke, they really should have been more explicit with each other when talking about future goals and if staying together was just a temporary thing.
If anything, I found myself getting extremely pissed off with Cass, especially toward the end of the book with how she blatantly used Dor, and he had the right of it when he spoke of her hiding behind other people (more specifically men, himself and Smoke) to solve all of her problems for her. And yes, while she had that really awful Beater attack that turned her into an outlier, and she had to fend for herself with both finding and keeping her daughter, she kind of ruined my trust in her as a sympathetic reader by giving into her demons when she could have found some other way not to.
The entire book she speaks of how important her daughter is to her, but with her behavior, it kind of spoke otherwise. It seemed like she was willing to release her demons in order to get revenge, her daughter all but forgotten in the process. I lost respect for her as a heroine, even while taking all of her horrible experiences into consideration. The saddest of all, I think, is that Littlefield could have crafted her differently. I know that there are heroines that turn into anti-heroines and vice-versa, but this was just kind of depressing to read. I’m all for reality and realism in my books, but this was just a little too much to absorb and a little too over the top in such a setting of despair for me to really enjoy Littlefield’s prose. It’s only when Ruthie is really threatened (or perceived to be threatened) by someone else does Cass really go back to being the heroine I enjoyed in the first book. And it shouldn’t have to be that way.
The only redeeming factor that overwhelmed Cass’ self-loathing and bad behavior was her desire to preserve her daughter (and save Dor’s daughter) in the face of the big bad, Mary Vane, and her machinations for using as many people as possible to develop a vaccine. Littlefield really hit home the fact that everyone is out for themselves regardless of what they say in this sad future with the character of Mary Vane, more than any other big bad that had come before. This ruthlessness to restore humanity at all costs was almost overwhelming, and with Littlefield’s prose, made me feel as if I really were in this bleak future. The horror of the Big Reveal of what these plans entailed really made things finally get interesting instead of just giving into one’s demons, and sadly, this was only within the last 80 pages of the book.
I guess you could say I’m feeling more than mixed about this series at this point in time — Cass seems to flip-flop on almost anything except for when it comes to her daughter. I don’t quite know what to feel about such a heroine. I’m glad that Littlefield writes a future that may not having a happy ending, but at the same time, I’m not sure it had to be so heavy-handed.
At this point, I’m not sure whether or not I’ll be reading the novella or any future books. But this book does deserve a read if you’ve read the first book, if only to get closure. It must be said that one thing I do love about Littlefield is that she’s not afraid to test the boundaries of pretty much everything in literature, even if the results aren’t always the greatest. It took balls to write this sequel, even if it was sad, but it was solid in the end.
So, I guess, give it a try, and see for yourself how you feel about Cass Dollar by the end of the book.