Publisher: Escape Harlequin
Release Date: Out now
For fans of The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games comes a YA novel about freedom, choice and family — and the terrifying disease that makes them mutually exclusive.
From the day she was born, Lena has viewed the world through the jagged window of a razor-wired fence. The hundred-acre property she shares with her mother in the Australian outback may keep her safe from the Y-Carrier disease, but it is no longer enough to hold Lena’s interest, and her mother’s increasingly tight grip on her free will is stifling.
Just as her curiosity blooms and her courage rises, she meets a boy through the fence — the first boy she has ever laid eyes on. His name is Patrick and he comes with a dangerous yet irresistible invitation of adventure beyond the fence, an invitation to which Lena cannot say no.
But Lena’s newfound freedom is short-lived and she soon discovers that the Y-Carrier disease is not the only enemy she faces on the outside. Her new enemies want something Lena has, and they are willing to do anything to get it…
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*
I am a huge fan of post apocalyptic settings with marauding zombies and society collapsing with a group of survivors trying to escape rampage and mayhem. So I was very intrigued with Carriers by Vanessa Garden because of the setting in the stark Australian outback and a virus that has decimated the population by killing women and making the men carriers who slowly go insane.
Within the first few chapters, I was instantly hooked with the premise and the tone was chilling and atmospheric. Lena has grown up never knowing or meeting up with another male other than her own father who died a few years earlier, and has only known the company of her mother and older cousin who was sent to live with them to avoid infection. But after the death of her cousin who was found raped and murdered outside the compound, Lena starts to question her mother’s rules. She finds her life constricting and suffocating so she begins to plot her own escape, even though she may find herself in a similar fate that her cousin suffered.
Lena is restricted in the farm compound that her parents have set up before the world had gone to hell with the arrival of the virus. But her world changes when she encounters the first male, Patrick, other than her father. Patrick is just as fascinated with meeting her and Lena decides to meet up with him at his home where he cares for his younger brothers, even though her mother would be furious that Lena would dare to break her rules.
Vanessa Garden sets up a claustrophobic and eerie tone in the Australian outback and there is feeling a of hopelessness and loneliness that permeates throughout the book. I also really enjoyed Lena’s narration. She’s frustrated and angry that she is trapped with a mother who has gone crazy and is scarily authoritarian about the way she lives. However, I wished there was more on how the virus and the subsequent outbreak spread. I would also like to know how her parents managed to prepare years of isolation and survival because the world-building was pretty weak on how the virus worked and how it affected the populace. It was very vague and there was not much detail or information on how it affected the men and killed women.
I also found the romance which was between Patrick and Lena didn’t have much of a build-up and I felt that Lena trusted too quickly and wanted to join him in a very short time she’d known him. Although I did like the parallels that was linked with Lena’s cousin who died a few years earlier of their meeting. But I wished there was more time to expand on their feelings and to build up trust because I did think their romance was rushed. Even though I understood their fascination with each other, it didn’t really feel there was much depth and I couldn’t believe this was a great love especially since it was a first love kind of thing.
I was also kind of dissatisfied with the book ending and the twist at the end. I am going to avoid spoilers because I don’t want to soil the surprise. While I really liked the premise of that twist, the execution itself was lacking–even though there were hints which I really liked because it really added to the eerie and atmospheric tone. I also felt it was a bit out of the left-field with the way certain characters reacted towards the big event at the end. I didn’t have an issue with the twist at the end but again it was lack of detail and I felt disconnected with the way things played out.
I have mixed feelings about CARRIER. I really enjoyed the premise and setting and Lena’s journey in the book was one of the highlights. I liked that she was not a TSTL heroine, and I empathized with her trying to break free from her mother’s control. But I wished there was more layers with the world-building especially with the virus. I really liked the idea of a virus that has decimated the population in such a way that females are almost killed off. I think it would be interesting to see how the world would recover from this. I would also like more of a build-up with the romance as well as the twist at the end. I’m not sure if there will be a sequel although the ending is very satisfactory with the HEA and Lena’s but there seems to be some plot threads hanging.
CARRIER is definitely an atmospheric and tense read–even though I was left a bit disappointed in the ending with the way it happened. I did enjoy the book and that was due to the engaging heroine and the stark and eerie setting.
I give Carrier a C+