Author: Alex Adams
Series: White Horse
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books, April, 17, 2012
Review Copy: ARC provided by Author
The world has ended, but her journey has just begun.
Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the president of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places.
White Horse is a novel that not only entertains with a good story but also makes you think. On the macro level White Horse is a story of what makes us human. On the micro level its about one woman's journey through a ravaged world and her attempt to retain her humanity. Zoe Marshall is the woman at the center of White Horse.
After a devastating loss, she's working a menial job at a pharmaceutical company. One day a mysterious jar appears in her apartment. There are no records of deliveries, no alarm company record of a anyone entering the apartment. Zoe is afraid of the jar and begins to see a therapist. After the jar appears strange things begin to happen. Cats disappear. Then people start dying. Zoe loses everyone close to her due to a strange illness dubbed White Horse. Other world changing events are happening as well - cyberattacks, wars, and weather wars. But it is White Horse that decimates the population of the world. No one knows where it came from. Zoe tries to find out. Against this backdrop, Zoe also finds love and sets off on a dangerous journey to find him.
There is a lot happening in White Horse. The novel gracefully slips between "Then" and "Now." I like this because it was an easy way to keep track of pre- and post- apocalypse in the narrative. "Now" is harrowing, dangerous, and horrifying. "Then" shows the world slipping away so it was equally frightening. On her travels Zoe encounters good and evil, sane and insane all the while trying to remain human - a compassionate human. She encounters pure evil in the form of The Swiss, another traveler. The Swiss is a remarkable villain. While Zoe wants to retain her humanity, I wanted her to kill him. Zoe struggles with whether she should or shouldn't. The Swiss is the other side of the coin from Zoe. He will kill on a whim. He is a villain I loved to hate.
White Horse is also a love story. This part of the story is interwoven well. It's what sets Zoe on her quest and adds to the fabric of the novel. We don't get to know Zoe's love interest as well as Zoe and The Swiss, but the love relationship itself is not the main focus.
The story moves along at a good pace. There were a number of surprises that I did not see coming and were well done. I enjoyed the references to classical mythology that form a backdrop to the events in the novel.
Bottom Line: White Horse is a horrifying look at a post-apocalyptic world that shows us that our humanity is a reflection of our inner landscape and how we act. It's also a good read.
I give White Horse 4 1/2 Qwills.