Struggling with working-mother guilt, Marlene Greene hopes a camping trip in the forest will provide quality time with her three young children—until they see fires in the distance, columns of smoke distorting the sweeping view. Overnight, all communication with the outside world is lost.
Knowing something terrible has happened, Marlene suspects that the isolation of the remote campsite is all that’s protecting her family. But the arrival of a lost boy reveals they are not alone in the woods, and as the unfolding disaster ravages the land, more youngsters seek refuge under her wing. The lives of her own children aren’t the only ones at stake.
When their sanctuary is threatened, Marlene faces the mother of all dilemmas: Should she save her own kids or try to save them all?
I’m not much of a one for post-apocalyptic novels but All The Children sounded interesting and a way to step out of my comfort zone, which I need to do much more often if I’m honest. It also sounded like a good idea for a story. This isn’t a world in the far off future, this is in the now, the world we live in. And the way the world goes post-apocalyptic sounds scarily real, the result of a terrorist attack which releases a virus that kills a large part of the UK population – anyone basically who isn’t in the woods like Marlene, her sister-in-law, and their kids. It really wasn’t hard to imagine myself in that world, and wondering how I would respond. For Marlene it is with a mix of determination and complete cluelessness (for which she beats herself up in the same way she beat herself up for being a working mom). She knows she has to protect her kids, she just isn’t sure quite how. She doesn’t know survival techniques and she has no idea just how dangerous the world they are now living in is. Does she trust the old man they find, living alone, and telling them to not go South or flag down the helicopters that fly overhead? Or does she head in that direction and hope the old man was mad and not telling the truth?
Along the way, she has to figure out how to survive, how to feed, clothe and care for her children..and the other children that she finds hiding out, trying to stay safe. This added a great dimension to the book and increased the tension. This wasn’t just about her families lives, there were a lot more on the line, a lot more people counting on her – possibly the future of the world (as they didn’t know what had happened in other countries).
It was a clever twist I thought in a story that might otherwise have been pretty run of the mill (at least based on my limited reading of this type of novel), adding tension as I said but also allowing for the pace to pick up as the story progressed, leading to quite a thrilling ending, one that didn’t provide all the answers – something I like. I also liked that the book was well written with characters that grew on me, including some of the children – which are always hard to write. It kept me interested throughout and turning the pages (it’s one of my quicker recent reads), leaving me liking it a lot and saying it’s a recommended read.
This was an Amazon First so it might be available now for those who want to grab a copy before publication day!