'TIL THE WORLD ENDS
Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre, and Karen Duvall
Available January 29th
Received via NetGalley for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
DAWN OF EDEN by Julie Kagawa
Before The Immortal Rules, there was Red Lung, a relentless virus determined to take out all in its path. For Kylie, the miracle of her survival is also her burden—as a doctor at one of the clinics for the infected, she is forced to witness endless suffering. What’s worse, strange things are happening to the remains of the dead, and by the time she befriends Ben Archer, she’s beginning to wonder if a global pandemic is the least of her problems….
THISTLE & THORNE by Ann Aguirre
After a catastrophic spill turns the country into a vast chemical wasteland, those who could afford it retreated to fortresses, self-contained communities run by powerful corporations. But for Mari Thistle, life on the outside—in the Red Zone—is a constant struggle. To protect her family, Mari teams up with the mysterious Thorne Goodman. Together, they’ll face an evil plot in both the underworld of the Red Zone and the society inside the fortresses that could destroy those on the outside…for good.
SUN STORM by Karen Duvall
Sarah Daggot has been chasing storms since she was a child. But after the biggest solar flares in history nearly destroy the planet, she becomes a Kinetic, endowed by her exposure to extreme radiation with the power to sense coming storms—in the cosmos and beyond. And she’s not the only one. Sarah believes the Kinetics are destined to join forces and halt the final onslaught of the sun. She’ll vow to keep trying to convince the one missing link in their chain of defense, the enigmatic Ian Matthews, up until the world ends.
DAWN OF EDEN by Julie Kagawa
Typically with novellas there’s not a great deal of backstory for the characters or world, the short page length requiring the action to take place and the relationships to form more quickly, but to our utter delight, Ms. Kagawa’s contribution to this collection is the backstory itself. In it we get to experience the terrifying beginning of what will become the world of The Immortal Rules, the dark and bloody reality of the Red Lung virus depicted for us in gut-wrenching detail as humanity falls and the Rabids rise.
Though The Immortal Rules is a young adult series, albeit a gritty one, this prequel is perhaps more brutal and violent, and certainly more detailed on the romantic front, than The Immortal Rules, sliding it more firmly into the New Adult or adult category given its level of description. The relationship between Ben and Kylie is rich and layered despite the briefness of our time with them, their intimacy seeming to build slowly even though only days pass between their first meeting and a declaration of love, but even with such a short timeline Ms. Kagawa beautifully manages to give us a meaningful and genuine relationship – the birth of a love amidst the death of the world as we know it.
THISTLE AND THORNE by Ann Aguirre
Ms. Aguirre adds a truly magnificent story to this anthology with "Thistle and Thorne", her uncanny ability to craft gorgeously complex characters used to its fullest with this all-too brief tale. Mari is a young woman who shows remarkable growth over the course of the story, her strength and desire to protect her brother and sister obvious from the beginning, but her time with Thorne molds her slowly but surely, adding layer after layer of steel to her already-existing armor coating. She’s a young woman who’s capable and deadly when necessary, yet she possesses none of the cockiness or swagger that typically accompanies abilities such as hers, instead recognizing her weaknesses and working around them to ensure she’s as effective a fighter, protector, and survivor as she can be.
Her relationship with Thorne is a fascinating contrast to what we saw expressed between Kylie and Ben in Ms. Kagawa’s story, the physical intimacy of the latter drastically different from the slightly strange (in the best way possible) and hesitant intimacy of the former. There’s hardly a touch exchanged between Mari and Thorne, but the air between them is thick with possibility and there’s a sense of unspoken understanding that gradually forms, building and strengthening until it becomes an almost physical caress we can feel down to our bones. The beauty of the promise between Mari and Thorne lingers in our hearts and minds long after reading, and it's my deepest wish and most sincere hope that Ms. Aguirre will see fit to return to this world at some point and explore their relationship further.
SUN STORM by Karen Duvall
Though the bleak world depicted in the final novella of this anthology is as fascinating as the two that preceded it, inspiring in us the same thankfulness that our reality is–as of yet–still a far cry from the desperation and devastation portrayed page to page, the characters themselves pale a bit in comparison to our previous two couples. Sarah is a bit of an emotional cyclone, forming an opinion and passing judgment one minute only to spin 180 degrees the next, trusting Ian and then condemning him for his actions before quickly apologizing when her accusations prove false. Additionally, their feelings for one another form quickly and easily, which would be fine as Kylie and Ben’s did as well, but Sarah and Ian’s relationship lacks the poignancy we experienced just pages before with Ms. Kagawa’s and Ms. Aguirre’s contributions.
Overall "Sun Storm" is a quick and entertaining read, but it has the misfortune of following two stories where the characters shine brightly from the pages, illuminating their dark worlds with the beauty and strength of their radiance.