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Review–Red Hill by Jamie McGuire

By Megan Love Literature Art & Reason @meganm922
17457124 Red Hill by Jamie McGuire Summary: When the world ends, can love survive?
For Scarlet, raising her two daughters alone makes fighting for tomorrow an everyday battle. Nathan has a wife, but can’t remember what it’s like to be in love; only his young daughter Zoe makes coming home worthwhile. Miranda’s biggest concern is whether her new VW Bug is big enough to carry her sister and their boyfriends on a weekend escape from college finals.
When reports of a widespread, deadly “outbreak” begin to surface, these ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances and suddenly their fates are intertwined. Recognizing they can’t outrun the danger, Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda desperately seek shelter at the same secluded ranch, Red Hill. Emotions run high while old and new relationships are tested in the face of a terrifying enemy—an enemy who no longer remembers what it’s like to be human.
Set against the backdrop of a brilliantly realized apocalyptic world, love somehow finds a way to survive. But what happens when the one you’d die for becomes the one who could destroy you?
Red Hill grabs you from page one and doesn’t let go until its stunning conclusion. This is #1 New York Times bestselling author Jamie McGuire at her unforgettable best.

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Source: I purchased a paperback.
Red Hill was a decent read. I liked the plot, the progression of the story, and the characters for the most part. I love apocalyptic fiction and I am a fan of zombie novels, so I knew Red Hill would be right up my alley. I like the author’s other books, though I don’t think their strength lies in the writing, so I was curious to see how the author handled more of horror setting than a romance.
I enjoyed the book and finished it fairly quickly. I was invested in the characters and I wondered how some of the interpersonal conflicts would resolve themselves. I wondered who would survive and who would perish. But if I am being honest, I don’t think Red Hill did anything particularly well or outstanding. I mean, it wasn’t a bad novel and there wasn’t anything terrible about it by any means. It was written better than I expected and I was invested in the story, as I said. But it contributes basically nothing to the genre in my opinion.
Perhaps part of me is desensitized to the genre, which is very much a possibility. But the zombies and the zombie conflict was bland in the grand scheme of things. Yeah, they were gross and slow and there were tons of scenes where they were killed in various ways, but it was all sort of… dull. There was nothing about the writing or the story that brought anything new to the table or creeped me out or was particularly horrifying. I wasn’t expecting World War Z kind of horrifying and amazing descriptions, but they still fell short of what I was hoping for.
I think in order to write a memorable zombie novel, there has to be something about it that sets it apart. If the author was going for more a tale of survival in a broken world, then the characters would have needed to be the strongest factor, but the threat of the zombies would have been equally important to make the reader scared for the characters (life hanging in the balance). Nothing about the writing had me clutching the book, whether in fear of the zombies or fear for the lives of the characters.
Perhaps Red Hill is just a book that shows me how strangely I categorize my novels and serves as a good example of what kind of reader and reviewer I am. In a romance, I’m more apt to accept norms and go with the flow. I’ll settle for predictable plots and more telling vs showing if I still end up caring about the relationship and the characters involved. But when it comes to any other genre, especially fantasy, sci fi, or apocalyptic novels, I find the flaws far more noticeable and I demand much more from the author. I need more character building, more storytelling, more world building, and much stronger writing capabilities than I require my romances to have. And Red Hill was too weak for me.
Red Hill was not a bad novel and it wasn’t badly written or anything like that. But for the genre, I thought it was weak. There was nothing that set it apart, so it lacked originality. Everything about it has been done before and the areas that it could have excelled in just weren’t done well enough to blow me away. There was a lot of telling instead of showing throughout the novel, which left it with a dull feeling overall.
I do think that it serves as a good novel to introduce people into the apocalyptic genres, especially because I know fans of the Beautiful Disaster series will read it. Romance fans who typically avoid horror/scifi/fantasy may find it to be great and might pick up some more novels with amazing settings as a result. The book definitely has a market. But if you are already a fan of zombies, apocalypses, horror, or stories of survival in a bleak world, you’re probably safe skipping this one.

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