Home by Matthew Costello
Publisher: St. Martins Press/Oct. 30th, 2012
Kind thanks to St. Martins Press for providing a review copy
Besieged and attacked, a mother and her children must escape a post-apocalyptic nightmare world of cannibals and betrayal
Jack Murphy thought he’d found the perfect escape for his family from a world gone horribly mad. He thought wrong.
Matthew Costello’s Home begins mere minutes after the terrible sacrifice made by Jack to save his family at Paterville Camp. Barely escaping, Jack’s wife, Christie, and two children, Kate and Simon, must accept that their lives and their future have changed forever.
In this intimate and human survivalist horror story, the three of them will face even greater dangers, as well as yet-unknown horrors, to simply stay alive as together they search for a road “home” in this intense and original postapocalyptic thriller.
REVIEW (Warning: If you haven’t read Vacation, there are some spoilers here, but nothing that’s not revealed on the back cover of the book)
Home opens right where Vacation left off. Actually it opens up a little bit sooner in order to remind the reader just how much of a tragic disaster the ending of Vacation was. By that I mean our hero in the first book, Jack Murphy, made a terrible sacrifice in order to help his family escape what was supposed to be a family vacation free of restrictions, where his kids could run and play in an environment not overrun by Can Heads (cannibalistic plague carriers.) The world of Vacation and Home is a world trying to overcome a devastating plague that turned people into monsters. Your every move is monitored and if you’re lucky, you live in a gated community with armed guards and hopefully your own huge stockpile of guns and ammo. Jack and Christie Murphy were one such family. Jack saw what these creatures could do on a daily basis, and in turn, took a nearly phobic approach to protecting his family. Vacation impressed the hell out of me, in part by the fact that even though Jack was the main character, the author made Christie a force unto herself, one that, in spite of some problems, loved her husband and trusted him implicitly, so that when the you-know-what hit the fan, Christie trusted that her husband wouldn’t lead them astray. He didn’t, and Home continues Christie’s story with her two children, Kate, and Simon.
When the threesome head out of Paterville Camp, they notice that things aren’t quite what they should be. When they stop at a gathering of civilians and police, they learn that home may not be the safe (er) place it used to be. Even so, they’re going to need the supplies that have been stockpiled at the house, so in spite of strong misgivings, Christie makes the decision to head home anyway. They arrive home to a devastated neighborhood and Christie decides to gather up supplies and leave, but a group of Can Heads throw a wrench into things, and a neighbor, Helen, comes to their timely rescue. Helen offers them warm beds and a place to stay for the night and she also offers a bit of hope: a hotel in the mountains called Mountain Falls Inn. Supposedly, a former military buddy of her late husband’s is heading up a group of survivors, and they may be able to offer a safe haven. Christie is understandably dubious, since Paterville Camp was supposed to be safe too, but where else could they go? With little options left, Christie decides to head up to the mountain compound with Helen, where “the Colonel” holds sway and things may not be as they seem.
In this series, Matthew Costello offers up his version of zombie apocalypse (but his creatures aren’t quite zombies), and after plowing through Vacation in record time, I couldn’t wait to get back to this terrifying world. The prose style is short sentences, short chapters, and plenty of tension and suspense. I love it. He doesn’t waste words and because of that, there’s a constant feeling of immediacy and dread that will have you turning the pages with lightning speed. It will probably hit a nerve with parents, in particular, because this is Christie’s story, and her strength, determination, and willingness to defend the ones she loves, especially her children, at all costs will certainly resonate. This series is perfect for fans of post-apocalyptic fiction and of course, zombie fic, but to ignore it as a just plain good thriller would be a mistake. I’m hoping the author has more plans for this series, and if so, I can’t wait.
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