Monday, December 23, 2013

Audiobook Review: Red Hill

Red Hill: A NovelAuthor: Jamie McGuire
Series: Standalone
Published: October 1st 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Lenght: 9 hrs and 38 mins
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Audible

When the world ends, can love survive?

For Scarlet, raising her two daughters alone means fighting for tomorrow is 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?
I was very pleased to see that Red Hill placed 3rd in the GoodReads Choice Awards for Horror, with over 10 000 well-deserved votes, losing only to Stephen King and Joe Hill. While I myself voted for Parasite by Mira Grant, I considered Red Hill to be a close second and it thrilled me to see its quality recognized.

There are so few old school zombie books these days, pure end-of-the-world survival stories. Red Hill reminded me of movies like Dawn of the Dead, with its overall story, individual characters’ stories and the day-to-day struggle to survive. I could easily imagine this turned into a movie and even the smallest details came alive in my head beautifully.

Red Hill is told from three perspectives: Scarlett, a divorced nurse and mother of two pre-teen daughters, separated from them and desperate to find them; Nathan, a single father of one small daughter with special needs; and Miranda, a college student intent on taking her group of friends to her father’s Red Hill ranch where they have the best chance of surviving the apocalypse.

All three voices were done exceptionally well. I found myself enjoying all three perspectives equally. As a mother, I understood Scarlett’s desperate need to find her daughter and admired Nathan for his determination to keep his little girl safe, but Miranda was the one closest to me as a person. I found so much of myself in her that it was easy to understand her choices at all times, even when someone else might have struggled with them.

While characters are very much the heart of this story, there is plenty of blood and gore around them. Zombies are everywhere, fresh and hungry. McGuire never shied away from horrible, painful things. No character was ever safe. I expected a lot of things from Red Hill, but the emotional impact took me completely by surprise.

Emma Galvin, January LaVoy and Zachary Webber narrated this story. Emma Galvin is the only one I’ve had the pleasure of listening to before (Divergent, Allegiant, Forever) but the other two were just as good. They each added something to their POV character and turned this story into a spectacular listening experience.

If you enjoy old-school zombie books, Red Hill is a must read. I strongly recommend it to fans of Rihannon Frater’s As the World Dies trilogy and to all other zombie fans. I doubt there’s room for a sequel here, but Jamie McGuire is a versatile writer and I’m sure she’ll give us so many other books to look forward to in the future.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. You know, I'm a little surprised this is a good book. Which, I realize, is a horrible thing to say, but I just didn't expect quality writing, characters, or plot from the author of Beautiful Disaster. I'm not a fan of zombies or horror and my last experience with McGuire has more-or-less ruined me for her future works, so I can't see myself picking this up anytime soon. I'm glad to see you really enjoyed it, though, Maja. Wonderful review, my friend! :)

  2. Same as Keertana. I expected this to be a negative review as soon as I saw Jamie McGuire's name. My past experience with her work was anything less than pleasant. But since this is a completely different genre from her previous romance novels, maybe I will keep an eye on it and wait to see more reviews. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Maya!

    Angel @ Spare Reads

  3. I've seen some mixed reviews for this. I don't think I would sit down and read it, but I think I'll give the audio version a try. Thanks for the review, Maja!

  4. I read this other review and think..not for me

  5. I love the sound of this series especially because it's dystopian in its true form so to speak. There is this horror and everything that goes with that which many dystopians have lost. I'll be reading this one soon, hopefully. Great review, Maja :)

  6. "While characters are very much the heart of this story, there is plenty of blood and gore around them."

    And that pretty much guarantees that I will not be reading this one Maja! I don't deal well with zombies and blood and gore. Sometimes horror works for me, but more the psychological kind where there's not a whole lot of blood and death. I'm so glad this one worked well for you though, I really want to try Jamie at some point, maybe just not this series!

  7. I think this sounds great, actually. I'm pretty curious about the story and I love that it's a stand-alone since I'm bad with series these days. I don't have time to keep up.

  8. I love an good, old fashion Zombie story so I'm definitely going to check Jamie McGuire's Red Hill . I like the sound of good characterization and gore :) Great review Maja!

  9. I'm not a horror fan at all but I do know quite a few readers who do and will pass this recommendation along. Glad you enjoyed it, Maja.

  10. I hated McGuire's Beautiful Disaster with such a burning passion that I had decided that I wouldn't be reading anything in the future by her, but it sounds like she has grown as a writer from your review, Maja. I don't read many horror books, but I do enjoy them. I think I might have to check this one out soon especially since the characters sound like they are well-written.
    Great review!

  11. Oh a zombies book? I would love to try it. And I still need to listen an audiobook... I should try, I'mjust always anxious about the English. I'm glad it was a nice one, it's sometimes difficult to follow different characters.

  12. Really? Jamie McGuire? I know some people love her Beautiful Disaster stuff but I didn't really like her writing style. However, a zombie book, something completely different than the NA thing, sounds like she got it right!

  13. There have been a lot of really mixed reviews on this one but I really liked it so I am happy to see your review on this and glad that you enjoyed it too.

  14. I'm not big on zombie books but there are some that I ended up loving so I'm pretty open minded to them yet. This one might just be a tad too scary for me though. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  15. I like that there is little room for a sequel. I mean you had me with the rest of the review but you nailed it with that one. Maybe I'm reading too many serials, but it is nice to have a complete book once in a while. Now to decide if I want to read it or listen to it? Hm...

  16. Hmmm, a zombie classic story that seems like a stand alone? I think I really need to add this one to the list for whenever I need a change of pace next!

    Great review, Maja!

  17. Wow, this totally sounds right up my alley. Need to get my hands on this audio! Lovely review. :)

  18. Sounds awesome! What a great review! Thanks!

  19. While I scored this a little lower than you, do to an issue I had with the daughters I enjoyed this. Yes old school zombie book is the perfect way to describe this, and I think it shows how talented she is despite issues I had. Wonderful review!

  20. I really love the sound of this one, Maja, and it seems that the characters' voices remain very distinct, but I tend to typically stay away from gory novels, especially if they involve zombies. I guess I'll add this one to my wishlist and hope that I can read the entire thing.


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