Title: The Scourge
Author: A.G. Henley
Genre: YA, post-apocalyptic, romance
Series? Yes, #1 in The Scourge
Publisher: A.G. Henley
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Synopsis from cover: Seventeen-year-old Groundling, Fennel, is Sightless. She’s never been able to see her lush forest home, but she knows its secrets. She knows how the shadows shift when she passes under a canopy of trees. She knows how to hide in the cool, damp caves when the Scourge comes. She knows how devious and arrogant the Groundlings’ tree-dwelling neighbors, the Lofties, can be.
And she’s always known this day would come—the day she faces the Scourge alone.
The Sightless, like Fenn, are mysteriously protected from the Scourge, the gruesome creatures roaming the forests, reeking of festering flesh and consuming anything—and anyone—living. A Sightless Groundling must brave the Scourge and bring fresh water to the people of the forest. Today, that task becomes Fenn’s.
Fenn will have a Lofty Keeper, Peree, as her companion. Everyone knows the Lofties wouldn’t hesitate to shoot an arrow through the back of an unsuspecting Groundling like Fenn, but Peree seems different. A boy with warm, rough hands who smells like summer, he is surprisingly kind and thoughtful. Although Fenn knows his people are treacherous, she finds herself wanting to trust him.
As their forest community teeters on the brink of war, Fenn and Peree must learn to work together to survive the Scourge and ensure their people’s survival. But when Fenn uncovers a secret that shatters her truths, she’s forced to decide who and what to protect—her people, her growing love for Peree, or the elusive dream of lasting peace in the forest.
A tale of star-crossed lovers, strange creatures, and secretive, feuding factions, THE SCOURGE introduces readers to a rich and exciting new world where nothing is as it seem
Well, first of all, I hate zombies. With a burning, seething passion. Just the word zombie will put me out for a good five minutes. Just… ugh. *shudder* BUT! This book was marvelous, as far as zombies go. I think it’s because they weren’t quite zombies – at least not by the definition I know. There were parts of that, but not really. And the romance… Totally squee-worthy. Like little butterflies in my heart – adorable and 100% authentic.
There are really only two main characters in this story that are focused on the most: Peree (Peregrine) and Fenn (Fennel).
Fenn: The best part about Fenn was her incredible character growth. She starts out as a timid, easily scared, blind girl, and becomes a strong leader who refuses to feel sorry for her own disability – something I always appreciate in a character. And she was focused on her purpose, too: no time for angst here! She does question herself, and Peree, and her entire culture as she knew it, but not so much that she whines page after page. All in all, a strong, yet quiet, protagonist, and a reliable narrator despite her lack of sight.
Peree: *swoon* New book boyfriend! With his story-telling, stoic silence, and capability with a bow, Peree has all the qualifications for quasi-flawlessness, but of course he still has flaws, ultimately making him the perfect, most believable character. He’s a bit jealous, and when injured he’s downright rude sometimes, but mostly he’s good-natured, a bit witty, and the perfect Keeper for Fenn.
Concept: Like I said, zombies and Kayla don’t mix. But I think it’s because they were called “the scourge” or runa. I don’t know, “a rose by any other name” sort of thing? Whatever it is, I still accepted it! Maybe also because of the plot twist in the second half of the book, and they’re not true zombies. I still loved the ideas of Lofties versus Groundlings, and that whole separation, but then when Henley threw in the thing of Lofties are white and Groundlings are black, it threw me for a loop. Call me naive, but whenever racism comes my way I’m always really surprised. Like, people still think that way? I just wasn’t raised to think that, and people are people to me, no matter the skin color.
Plot: This one felt less like break-neck action and more like an epic being slowly unfurled. It didn’t move too quickly, but there was so much world-building that I needed that slower pace. And I really want to read the next book, because this is shaping up to be a huge, multi-layered epic that will be worth the read!
With the main character being blind, there’s obviously the problem of describing physical appearances. But I never felt like Henley had to stretch to give me an image of what was going on: it was really well done without being either too little or too much where it seemed unrealistic. Everything was engaging, and I never felt lost or confused!
While I’m not raving about it, I really do look forward to the next book. I think this is one that will need to grow on me, and give me some time I think I’ll get that fervor. I highly recommend it, just because of how well done the world building is, and it’s a beautifully complex book to wrap your brain around!
My Final Rating:
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