Wednesday, February 20, 2013

'Til the World Ends by Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre, and Karen Duvall

eARC, 448 pages
Published: January 29, 2013
By:  Harlequin Luna
Source: Arc from Netgalley

Goodreads Summary:

Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa 

Before The Immortal Rules, there was the 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.

My Thoughts:

There are three Post Apocalyptic short stories written in the anthology, Til' the World Ends.  I was excited to request this title from Netgalley for two reasons.  First and foremost, I love and enjoy getting caught up in stories in the Post Apocalypse genre.  I love reading these creative and frightening tales!  I can't help but be highly captivated and entertained by them.  Secondly, when I saw the talented authors that had contributed to this anthology, I knew that I would not be disappointed.  Julie Kagawa has a huge fan base and is known for the success of her Iron Fey Series, and Ann Aguirre's Razorland Series is epic, and one of my favorite Post Apocalyptic Series.  I hadn't heard of Karen Duvall before this series.  Yet, I figured if Harlequin decided to pair her with such powerhouses as Ms. Kagawa, and Ms. Aguirre, she must be a talented writer in her own right, and I was excited to get to sample her writing style through the reading of her short story.

The first short story in the anthology is titled, Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa.  I was riveted to every page in this story.  Ms. Kagawa is a master story teller.  She spun a tale so terrifying and realistic in many aspects that I was mesmerized by the plot and this story came alive for me.  The US and overseas is consumed by a painful and horrifying disease know as the "Red Lung Virus."  This virus is spread like wildfire and ravages the lungs of humans through suffocation.  The main character Kylie, is a doctor caring for patients in her small clinic that are infected by this virus, when she meets Ben, and his friend Nathan one day.  With their prescence at the clinic, Kylie learns that there is something more dangerous and sinister lurking in the world, than the "Red Lung Virus..."  For Dawn of Eden being a short story, it was really well developed.  The characters were realistic, and well described.  The plot was engaging, and had plenty of twists and turns to keep my attention.  I enjoyed this story so much, that I was sad to see it end, and would have loved to see it expanded into a full length novel.  I give the Dawn of Eden 5 out of 5 Horribly Gripping Stars!

The second short story in the anthology is Thistle and Thorne by Ann Aguirre.  In this post apocalyptic story, a chemical spill from 30 years ago has ravaged the land.  The wealthy live in heavily guarded fortresses with every comfort and luxury that you could possibly imagine.  They have filtered air and water, and their style of living has not changed from the chemical spill.  Unfortunately, the poor are left to live with the consequences of this man-made disaster.  In fact, they are forced to scavage, steal, and do horrendous things to survive.  These people live in what is referred to as the "red zone,"  which is full of dust, pollution, filth, poverty, and violence.  It's a survival of the fittest, and every person for themselves mentality.  Thistle and Thorne are the protagonists in this story, and come together to unite against the antagonist and self-appointed dictator of the "red zone," Stavros.  Thorne was sold as a young boy to this cruel, corrupt, and violent dictator, and is determined to overthrow Stavros' tyranny.  Thistle was set up by Stavros to be murdered, and used as an example of what happens if you don't acquiesce to Stavros' rule.  Thorne uses Thistle's situation as a catalyst to get people to back him up, so that he can overthrow the corrupt dictator.   The question I had as I read this story was, if Thistle and Thorne would survive, and be able to overthrow a man with overwhelming power, unlimited resources, and so much fear imbedded in the people?  This story was a disappointment for me.  I love Ann Aguirre's writing, and am a huge fan of her Razorland Series, so I had high expectations, and was eagerly anticipating this story.  

Aspects of Thistle and Thorne that I did not enjoy were that the plot was not entertaining or developed enough.  I was hoping for an action packed, plot driven story.  What I got was a stagnant story with a somewhat lackluster plot.  I did not get to enjoy plot twists or surprises in this story, and I was not entertained.  Thistle and Thorne dragged, and for a short story, it felt extremely long.  For the most part, this story consisted of a never ending cycle of the two protagonists running, hiding, and fighting, a variety of Stavros' hired guns, until the very end, when the final confrontation took place.  Also, you could feel the attraction and sexual tension between the protagonists, but nothing ever came of it.  I kept waiting and anticipating the development of a relationship between these two, and was sadly disappointed when nothing ever came of their mutual attraction.  It was difficult for me to finish this story.

However, it would be unfair if I were not to mention the few aspects of Thistle and Thorne that I enjoyed.  I enjoyed the descriptive imagery that the author was able to create with her words.  I also enjoyed reading about a female protagonist in the post apocalypse that was strong, stealthy, intelligent, and independent, instead of the typical damsel in distress role that is often afforded to them.  Thistle saved Thorne from dangerous situations, as much as he saved her.  

Overall, I had mixed thoughts about Thistle and Thorne.  There were both aspects I liked as well as disliked in this story.  Therefore, I would say this was an okay read for me, and even though I didn't love it, maybe someone else will.  I give Thistle and Thorne 3 stars.   

The last short story in the anthology is Sun Storm by Karen Duvall.  The sun has destroyed most of the land and "sun storms" take place, where sparks shoot off of the sun and cause a multitude of negative consequences, due to extreme heat and radiation.  Therefore, people either die, become very ill, crazy, (these people are called "Berserkers,") or they develop abilities due to a change that occurs in their DNA.  The two main characters are two such people that develop abilities, and are called "Kinetics."  Sarah's ability is to predict when and where a sun storm is going to hit.  She is also addicted to the suns energy.  Therefore, Sarah "chases" sun storms to recharge her kinetic energy, and warns others before a sun storm hits.  She meets Ian, another Kinetic with the energy to control the weather (to a certain extent), when he helps save her dad from a sun storm.  In the meantime, the antagonist Nichol, who works for the government is corrupt and is trying to recapture Ian and make him perform tasks to manipulate the weather to the highest bidder.  In the meantime, Sarah gets a premonition of an upcoming sun storm that will wipe out the earth and all living things in 2 days.  Sarah and Ian learn that they may be the key to stopping this catastrophic event, but they don't know how, and if they will have enough time to succeed.  Along the way, there are many obstacles in their path, and you will be rooting for them to succeed in saving the earth!  

I enjoyed reading a story that was both unique in it's premise and plot.  We hear about how the ozone layer isn't protecting us from the sun as it once did, and how this has affected natural disasters, and extended summers.  So reading a story about the sun's destruction on both the earth and all living things was really scary.  It seemed all too realistic.  This story was entertaining, had plenty of plot twists and was action packed.  Sun Storm also had a little romance and I enjoyed watching Sarah and Ian's romantic relationship unfold.

The only downside to this story was that it was too short, and consequently, I think it was a little lacking in character development and background information.  I would have liked to have had more information on how Sarah and Ian's lives were before the disaster, and what lead to the sun's destructiveness.  I give Sun Storm 4 radioactive stars!

Overall, Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa was an amazing story, and my favorite in the 'Til the World Ends Anthology.  Sun Storm by Karen Duvall was enjoyable, and scarily realistic.      Thistle and Thorne was a good start, but has room for improvement.  I give the anthology as a whole 4 stars!

My Favorite Quotes:

From Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa:

"It was pretty sobering, when you realized how much we had lost, how insidious this thing was:  an enemy that couldn't be stopped, put down, reasoned with.  It made you realize...we might not make it through this.  (Kindle Loc. 261)

"Many of the everyday conveniences-like ATM's, smart phones and gas pumps-were no longer working since the plague and the collapse of society.  There was no one left to keep the grids going, no one to man the towers and the internet servers.  It was a wake-up call for everyone, to realize how much we relied on things like electricity, running water and easy communication, and how crippling it was to go without."  (Kindle Loc. 590)

"I can be quiet, Ben whispered against my skin.  His hands were roaming down my ribs to my thighs, and mine had somehow slipped beneath his shirt to skim his muscular back.  But it's your call,  he panted.  Tell me to stop, and I will."  (Kindle Loc. 903)

Thistle and Thorne by Ann Aguirre:

"Some folks couldn't accept charity, but they could take from the weak...and that was a testament to how screwed up the world was."  (Kindle Loc. 2048)

These days, it was a survival skill, knowing who to trust, who would screw you and when to run."  (Kindle Loc. 2238)

"I slipped into the shadows, second nature now.  Sometimes survival stemmed from going unseen."  (Kindle Loc. 2301)

Sun Storm by Karen Duvall:

"Desperation and depression combined with unstable energy created by the storms tended to mess with neurons in the brain .  The people affected most became more animal than human, acting purely on the heat of their emotions."  (Kindle Loc. 2626)

"I could get happily lost in time right here and never leave this room.  If only I could lose myself in passion, to feel alive and forget the horrors outside these walls."  (Kindle Loc. 3447)

"Yes, but you gave me a taste of what the world has to offer, even when there are only  a few good things left in it.  When it comes to you, Sarah, I'll gladly take a few days of wonderful over a lifetime of horrible."  (Kindle Loc. 3486)

                      About the Authors:

                                      Julie Kagawa:

Julie Kagawa, the New York Times Bestselling author of The Iron Fey and Blood of Eden series, was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn't getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.

                                       Ann Aguirre:

Ann Aguirre is a USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes books, emo music, and action movies. She writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens.

                                     Karen Duvall:

Karen Duvall is a native Californian who grew up in Hawaii, lived in Colorado most of her adult life, and now lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. She has three grown children and five grandchildren.

Karen has been telling stories since the age of three, when she wasn’t yet able to write but could tell her tales to her mother, who wrote them down for her. Illustrating the stories with crayons was one of her favorite parts of writing those early books.

She still draws pictures, but put her crayons away in favor of computer graphics. Karen is a professional graphic designer with a passion for portraying her characters and scenes by painting pictures with words.

                           Escape in a Book,

Purchase At:             Amazon/Barnes and Noble/Book Depository


  1. I have just read The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa though I do have Enclave by Ann Aguirre I still have to get to it. This anthology sounds amazing and I'll definitely be checking it out! great reviews Lindy! :)

    Janhvi @ The Readdicts

  2. Thanks Janhvi :) I haven't read The Immortal Rules yet, but I really want to after reading Julie Kagawa's short story, I have read Ann Aguirre's Razorland Series, and it's really good!


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