Publisher: Pocket Star books
Release Date: Out Now
The Pulse by Shoshanna Evers
It’s been one year since an electromagnetic pulse destroyed America’s infrastructure and took down the power grid, throwing the country into a new Dark Age. Emily Rosen lives in a military camp at Grand Central Station, where women act as the soldiers’ private harem, selling their bodies on the tracks for extra rations. Emily escapes Grand Central and goes on the run from the soldiers intent on killing her for the secret she’s discovered—America is rebuilding outside of New York City, and everything the city’s refugees have been told is a lie.
Christopher Mason, a convict who broke out of prison after the Pulse, finds Emily before the soldiers do. Mason’s survived on the streets of New York City this long by looking out only for himself—but there’s something about the beautiful young woman that makes her impossible to leave behind. Now Emily must convince this intimidating, magnetic stranger to be her protector and guide as they journey out of New York and into the unknown. For Mason’s protection, Emily barters the only thing anyone’s valued since the Pulse—her body. But sex with Mason can never be just currency—it’s pure passion, and everything she desires.
When I first saw the blurb for The Pulse I was instantly intrigued by its premise. I love dark and gritty romances and I thought this would be an interesting post apocalyptic romance. However, by the 10 percent stage of my e-arc, I suspected the plot and characters weren’t going live up to its promise, and the book became a huge letdown for me.
Emily is a nurse struggling to survive a post Pulse New York city by avoiding the army, who has gone rogue, and others marauding the streets and roads of the city. But she is soon caught by the army who offer the only sanctuary in the city–a FEMA camp which is a hellish choice because rumours abound that young women don’t fare well. A year later Emily finds herself becoming a prostitute herself to survive. But after overhearing a conversation and radio transmission which shocked her because all electronic devices died during the Pulse, she goes on the run and allies herself with a man called Mason who helps her to escape the city.
I hate being disappointed in a book, especially when the premise is something I really love. But I have to say this was one of the worst books I have read this year because it ticked off some of my hot buttons. This book features sexual assault and rape so I am going to give a trigger warning for those who may feel that this is not the book for them. But that wasn’t the aspect of the book that let me down the most.
Let’s start with the heroine and hero. When you are on the run from the bad guys, I find it too stupid to live to have sex, especially when the environment you’re in is not safe, and especially if you’re being hunted down because Emily holds a damaging secret that could break down the authority of the power crazed colonel in charge of the camp. I like my smex but this book had too much of it and there was no real build up of tension between the hero, Mason, and Emily. I especially didn’t like the fact that Emily, who was coerced in having sex in the camps to survive, got over her past issues pretty quickly and was instantly in lust with Mason without any real depth or build-up. And add the fact she finds out he is an ex con for murder, she trusts him very quickly. This becomes the basis of their relationship and she views him as a protector, and I would have believed it if there was more to their romance. But it was sex, sex and more sex. They escaped from from the city and army and then quickly, it’s lets have some sex when there’s a break. They were on the road, taking a break, and decided again to have sex – forget the fact there is real danger out there.
Then there’s the world-building. I really didn’t like the subtext on how the army was viewed to be this brutish and dictatorial force and was able to control thousands of people, especially the size of the city of New York. There is martial law but where were the police and other Governmental bodies that allowed this to happen? And what about the gangs because the way Mason and Emily traveled the streets, escaping the city, was pretty easy – other than being approached by an ex-psych patient who has a nasty appetite for something other than rat meat.
I also couldn’t believe in a chaotic and crazy aftermath of the Pulse. The army wouldn’t have placed Emily, who is a qualified nurse, to be on the tracks where she is forced to prostitute herself. There was no real questions or answers on why the Pulse happened. It was a nameless enemy and it looked pretty vague that other countries escaped the fate of the Pulse but there was no offer of assistance so I suspect they suffered too. And let’s not forget there was a lot of gung-ho patriotism with America being great and how horrible this has happened and it didn’t need no help from any other countries because it will rise again. *HEAD DESK THUD x1000* It was just plain dumb to think to turn down assistance when you have a country facing that’s facing post apocalypse. Of course help and assistance is needed and if those countries are facing the same fate then it’s even worse. This was why the world-building didn’t work for me because it was so weak.
And then there’s Jenna who is Emily’s room-mate in the Tracks, sharing a train-car. This really pressed my hot-buttons and I almost DNFed when I read her first POV. Unlike other women, she liked sex and that’s fine. But like other women in her position, she didn’t have a choice. And even though she may have enjoyed having sex with her oppressors –and that is what they are – the subtext made me want to scream and tear my hair out. The message this had and the lack of agency was appalling. I can understand what the author wanted to do but this was an erotic romance/erotica disguised as a Post Apocalyptic romance. It just didn’t work. When you create a world like this it has to feel real and it has to feel harrowing, especially with what some of the characters went through. The sex really overpowered what could have been an interesting idea. I also didn’t find it erotic when mentions of characters not caring about STDs and being dirty all the time is not a great tone with trying to be sexy and at the same pretty off-putting.
And then there’s the ending. [spoiler] It highlighted how weak and one-dimensional the characters were for me. Both Mason and Emily manage to find some brief sanctuary in a small town on the outskirts of New York but because resources are low, Mason is not welcomed, but due to her medical skills, Emily is welcomed. Some of the residents are unhappy with her triage skills when she is treating some of the critically ill patients, but it’s ok to kick out a healthy man because resources are low. No irony is there. Mason thinks it’s in Emily’s best interest to hand her to the best male he can choose. He is being kicked out of the town and he needed to find a good home for his lover like you do with a pet. Even though he has no idea what kind of person this man could be after knowing him only for a day. Of course this doesn’t sit well with Emily and she follows him and they end up in a nice place away from crazy colonels and unaccommodating townsfolk.
There is a lot of inconsistencies, unlikeable and one-dimensional characters and a very weak plot and world-building. I’m very disappointed because I love scenarios like this but the emphasis on the sex and poor characterisations was not for me. There are other better series out there that tackles the stark and grittiness of a post apocalyptic world with good erotic content with strong characters who know what they’re doing. Sadly this book doesn’t have those elements for me and it was a huge let down.
I give The Pulse a D