Struggling with working-mother guilt, Marlene Greene hopes a camping trip in the forest will provide quality time with her three young children—until they see fires in the distance, columns of smoke distorting the sweeping view. Overnight, all communication with the outside world is lost.
Knowing something terrible has happened, Marlene suspects that the isolation of the remote campsite is all that’s protecting her family. But the arrival of a lost boy reveals they are not alone in the woods, and as the unfolding disaster ravages the land, more youngsters seek refuge under her wing. The lives of her own children aren’t the only ones at stake.
When their sanctuary is threatened, Marlene faces the mother of all dilemmas: Should she save her own kids or try to save them all?
I’m not much of a one for post-apocalyptic novels but All The Children sounded interesting and a way to step out of my comfort zone, which I need to do much more often if I’m honest. It also sounded like a good idea for a story. This isn’t a world in the far off future, this is in the now, the world we live in. And the way the world goes post-apocalyptic sounds scarily real, the result of a terrorist attack which releases a virus that kills a large part of the UK population – anyone basically who isn’t in the woods like Marlene, her sister-in-law, and their kids. It really wasn’t hard to imagine myself in that world, and wondering how I would respond.
When the world ends and you find yourself stranded on the wrong side of the country, every second counts.
No one knows this more than Edgar Hill. 550 miles away from his family, he must push himself to the very limit to get back to them, or risk losing them forever…
His best option is to run.
But what if your best isn’t good enough?
I picked up this book because I felt like I was seeing it everywhere as I was walking around London the other week. Then I found out it had been featured on radio 2 and raved about in various quarters. It had, however, apparently passed me by completely. The power of advertising is a marvellous (or dangerous) thing though and I ended up picking this book up without a second thought when I then saw it in the library a few days later.
I have to say I wasn’t sure what to expect even though I felt I had to read it. A book about a man running across the country – I worried it might be monotonous or plain old boring. Thankfully it was neither, in large part because of Ed who is more complex than he originally seems. This isn’t just about a journey across the country, it is about his personal journey.
I enjoyed watching him going from a bit of a selfish oaf who didn’t do much in the way of taking care of his family to being someone who realises how important they are to him. As the story progressed he became a stronger, nicer, person – one who stuck by his friends and took risks. And there were a lot of risks that needed taking.
This is a post-apocalyptic world and a scary one at times, not so much the people (though there are a few I wouldn’t want to cross) but because the environment is so inhospitable. There are no cars or roads to speak of (which is what makes running the only option). The sun does not shine so day and night don’t seem much different. In the end it is about endurance and determination. It takes a lot for Ed to attempt what he does and I was rooting him and his friends on the whole way.
This is a well written book with a good pace for the most part (it does flag a little in the middle but only for a couple of chapters). The characters are well developed and the story an interesting one I haven’t read in quite this way before (though there are many post-apocalyptic novels out there). It made it an enjoyable read, even for someone who – like Ed – doesn’t really like running and left me liking this one a lot. A recommended read.