My toenail has blackened and I've to pull it off.
–Sarah Davis-Goff - Last ones left alive - c.2019
Orpen is travelling alone across Ireland. She’s left the only home she ever knew and is looking for something. She’s left safety and security to risk her life out in the world. But her Mam and Maeve have warned her about the world, it isn’t just the skrate she needs to guard against, she also needs to beware people. People are not to be trusted. But life in isolation isn’t living, it is only surviving. It isn’t enough, and so Orpen sets out to find Phoenix City.
I really feel that if I’d ever gotten into a good goove with this book it could have really really worked for me. But I was reading it in fits and starts and it never managed to really grab hold of me. Still, the more I read the more I enjoyed it and if there is a sequel or follow-up I do think I’d give it a try.
This is a book set after the zombie apocalypse, skrates are the zombies or their equivalent. Orphen has never known any world but this, she was born after society collapsed. She was born on an island, off the coast of Ireland, an island free of the skrate.
But all her life she’s been in training because that is the only way to stay alive. Her parents, her mother and Maeve, have done all they can to prepare her for the outside world. All, that is, apart from telling her about where they came from, and what that society is like. She picks up bits and pieces, the word Banshee, the city where hope still lives. But are any of these things true?
It is told in short chapters, which alternate between Orpen on the road and her backstory, slowly revealing her story. You get right inside Orpen’s head, what she feels you feel. And I really liked that aspect. But as I mentioned earlier I think I was a bit too start-stop in my reading and never got the full impact.
Overall though I’d recommend it, Orpen is a great character. Tough and prepared, even if she is uncertain and innocent in other ways.