5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2012
I really liked The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker! Right from the very first page, the story and the characters really grabbed me, especially the main character, Sherry. I found it really interesting seeing this new world from her perspective, seeing the way in which her family copes and watching as Sherry adjusts to this new environment. And at the same time, the beginning of each chapter is laid out as a snippet of the other life, the one that Sherry used to lead.
A life that no longer exists, as for the past 3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days, Sherry and her family have been living in a bunker away from the world and away from the disease that has swept across Los Angeles. It began as a strain of rabies which has turned its victims into Weepers - deadly monsters whose aim it is to hunt and kill.
When Sherry's family is forced out of the bunker when their food runs out, Sherry is confronted with a whole new world. A Los Angeles that is nearly empty and lifeless. And as she sees sunlight and rain for the first time, Sherry also has to deal with the fact that her father has been captured and the only person that can help save him is Joshua, a troubled boy on a mission to destroy every last Weeper.
I really enjoyed this story, I found Sherry and Joshua to be interesting characters who I wanted to find out more about. I found this population-free LA to be an image that has stayed with me, the Weepers to be suitably horrifying and creepy and dangerous. And while at times, things felt a little convenient - in that Sherry meets this bad-ass Weeper killer at the exact right moment who happens to also live with a knowledgeable scientist who knows plenty about the rabies epidemic and is able to answer questions about Weepers - I was still able to move past that quickly and connect to the story. I liked the tenuous beginning to this relationship between Sherry and Joshua, I found it to be quite sweet. There was plenty of danger and edge-of-my-seat action that had me furiously turning the pages!
The ending to The Other Life is especially surprising and makes me feel very differently about everything. This is a fun and interesting debut novel and a good start to a new zombie series!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2012
Originally reviewed at: [...]
Rating: 5 out of 5 biscuits
Susanne Winnacker's The Other Life is the perfect example of a fast paced, action packed and cleverly written dystopian novel - something you pick up and find yourself breezing through the story in one day. I still consider myself quite new to the dystopian genre but Winnacker presents us such a devastating picture of a future Los Angeles, something so different from the world we're living in now, that you simply cannot help but listen to every word she says.
The plot is just fantastic: there's no introduction in the sense that we don't have a clue about what happened Sherry and her family. They've already been living in this bunker for 3 years by the time the story starts. We learn little bits of information about them and how their life has been down there in the past few years, but we still don't know why they're there or what happens if they run out of food and have to go out of their hiding place. Winnacker gradually builds up the tension in her book and keeps you on the edge of your seat all the way until the end. There are short periods when she lets you relax, take a deep breath and hope that everything will be all right, everyone will make it to the end but you soon realize that just like the characters, you can't let your guards down. When you think you've seen it all, Winnacker still manages to surprise you with another twist and make the suspense even more agonising than before.
On top of a gripping storyline, The Other Life has characters you probably won't forget anytime soon. Sherry and Joshua are a perfect duo and I couldn't tell you which one of them is more likeable or relatable - I just loved them both. I loved the fact that even though Sherry is only fifteen, she acts like an adult. She takes care of her little sister and she's tough, just like Joshua. I really liked how mysterious and tough, but at the same time vulnerable he is.
Gut-wrenching, utterly riveting and still a little bit optimistic, The Other Life is definitely one of those books you need to pick up as soon as you can. I'm not exaggerating when I say it's brilliant - believe me, you'll find it hard to put it down. Without a doubt, it's been one of my favourite books this year. The ending opened up many possibilities for the next book and I can't wait to see what happens next. Can 2013 hurry up, please?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2012
I think, possibly... I'm going to have to stop reading Young Adult/Teenage books for my zombie type fixes.
The Other Life was quite a short read. 314 pages done and dusted in a day. I liked the idea of the book. I can't imagine how you would cope with the thought that the World was ending - how do you even begin to plan for that, to get your family safe, calculate your provisions. Seal yourself underground with them... not go INSANE!
For me the story really began when Sherry and her father had to leave the bunker in search of food, this is when the most interesting characters in the whole book came into play. The Weepers. Former humans infected with some mutated rabies disease turning them into.... what came across to me, as a kind of highly intelligent half zombie, half werewolf. Their name given because of the constant milky tears they weep. The scenes they were in were quite simply amazing. I loved them. Gruesome, scary and in one instance for me, heart in mouth... But they were so few and far between. As with most YA books I've read lately - the majority of the plot seemed to be over taken by a sappy romantic sub plot which kind of dwarfed the amazing, amazing Weepers. It all happened to soon, hey - maybe that's what happens in an end of the World as you know it scenario.But you know, when your Dad has been dragged off by monsters, you haven't eaten properly in goodness knows how long, the rest of your family is potentially starving to death or being eaten... is romance really the top of your agenda? Really?
Aaargh and pah!
Again it seems a story that could have been so, so good just stumbled short for me. This is the start of a series and to be honest, I'm not fussed either way to see if anyone survives or not.
If you like Young Adult fiction with the focus on the romance and the (so cool) beasties as a kind of afterthought, this might be a great book for you.
For me? A disappointment.
on 2 July 2015
The Other Life follows a fairly standard plotline for books in this genre. A virus outbreak turns people into 'zombies', causing the survivors to go into hiding, where they remain for a number of years before finally having to come out to search for food and in the process see what has happened to the world they left behind. So far, so predictable. But Winnacker has thrown in a few curveballs to add a fresh feel to what could otherwise have remained humdrum as far as zombie-horror novels go, and for this reason I was looking forward to reading it.
First off, we're introduced to Sherry, who is still in a bunker with her family when we join her. And she's been there for over 3 years. But now their food is running out and along with her dad, Sherry has to leave to find more.
Although I found the bunker chapters interesting, the story only really got going for me once Sherry and her father left the bunker. After all, here are two people who haven't been above ground for over 3 years. They have no idea what they're about to be faced with, what their neighbourhood will look like or who they might meet. The action begins pretty quickly and before long they're both faced with a difficult situation they could never have planned for.
Secondly, we're told fairly early on how the virus occurred and who caused it, which for me is a big selling point. Many of the zombie-horror novels I've read retain an air of vagueness on these points, allowing the reader to make up their own minds. But by adding in these facts, we're able to empathise with Sherry much more, especially when she has to go up against the Weepers (those infected by the virus). We know what she knows and it makes it all the more harder for her to hurt them, and in most cases kill them, when she does.
However, here's the major downfall for me and the reason I can't score this book higher; the relationship between Sherry and Joshua, a teenage boy who Sherry meets early on in the novel when he helps her out of a sticky situation.
As with a number of other YA books I've read recently, the more interesting main plot is given over to what should have been a sub-plot romance at best. It happens very quickly (in less than 3 days) and faster than you can say 'here come the Weepers', Sherry and Joshua are holding hands, stopping to have a quick kiss and staring longingly into each other's eyes. And for me that just didn't ring true. When you're faced with an end-of-the-world scenario involving flesh-eating, virus-riddled humans whose sole purpose seems to be to rip you apart at every given opportunity, would you really be worrying about whether or not to hold a boy's hand or kiss him on the cheek? Something tells me not.
Finally, I just didn't 'get' the constant references to the time that had passed since Sherry last did something/ate something/smelled something/saw something. I don't care. I doubt very much anyone else would either. If the aim was to bring home to readers just how long 3 years is, it fails miserably. Most people can comprehend that it's a long time, especially when it's been spent trapped in a bunker with just your family for company, so telling me it's been 1,123 days since Sherry last ate an apple is overkill and doesn't help to move things along.
Overall this did have promise and I did enjoy reading it to a point. There's a pretty good twist in the tale towards the end and a sense of things to come, but for me it just didn't quite deliver. It's the first in a series, but based on this one I wouldn't be in a hurry to read the others. I don't feel invested enough in the characters to really care what happens to them.
If you're looking for some really amazing YA zombie-horror, I would highly recommend Charlie Higson's 'The Enemy' series, which is very near to perfect in my opinion (just don't read it at night before you go to sleep).
on 25 May 2014
A Spoiler Free Bit About The Book
I believe all you need to be intrigued about this book is the first part of the blurb. Nope, not even the whole blurb. This is all that pulled me in and made me part with my money.
‘3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since I’d seen daylight. One-fifth of my life. 98,409,602 seconds since the heavy, steel door had fallen shut and sealed us off from the word.’
First, I’d like to congratulate Winnacker on writing a ‘zombie novel’ that was different from the other zombie novels I’ve read (and written). I think that’s the hardest part about writing about zombies. How can you do it in a way that no one’s seen before? Well Winnacker’s Weepers were terrifying, super human, animal zombies, nothing like I’ve read before. She kept me guessing and kept me reading. I suppose the word ‘zombie’ isn’t even correct for The Other Life. The Weepers were so much more.
You get thrown into The Other Life by meeting Sherry and her family in the bunker they’d been hiding in for three years, having no idea what had happened above ground. The claustrophobia in the bunker came out and I wanted to get out as much as Sherry did but it was a brilliant way to learn about her and her family before they left the bunker and met new characters.
Speaking of them, the characters were all really relatable and different from one another. It was great for a change to not be confused at first by the new group of characters that had been thrown at me. They were introduced just the right distance apart and their names and descriptions were all different enough that I knew who everyone was without having to wrack my brains every time they appeared on the page.
I loved the way that Sherry was welcomed with open arms into Safe-haven. It made so much sense for the characters that inhabit the place. I was worried that they wouldn’t trust her and want to get rid of her but I think I’ve been watching too much Walking Dead as my worry was unfounded.
The description of the broken city was wonderful and I’m not usually a description fan. I could see everything before me. The empty roads, the abandoned buildings, the crumbling streets. Just excellent. Another reason I didn’t want to put The Other Life down. Every part of it gripped me, even the description.
The brief snapshots of Sherry’s other life before the virus contrasted beautifully with the chapters they preceded. Those pages were filled with safety and meaningless fears. They made sure that you never forget that in their new lives, none of the characters were safe. The stark contrast made me realise how naive and thoughtless we all are.
Of course, as I’ve mentioned I could hardly let the book out of my grasp, it had good pace. From chapter one in the bunker I was hooked. There was just the right mix of action and human emotion for me. After all, my favourite thing about zombie novels is the way the characters react to the situation around them and how their relationships change.
Plot -8/10 – I was right there with Sherry the whole way
Way Plot Was Pursued - 10/10 – I loved the snippets of Sherry’s other life
Characters - 9/10 – Perfect, but I wanted to learn more
Style - 9/10 – Loved Sherry’s narration, I felt she was relatable and realistic
Pace -9/10 – Excellent, maybe a few chapters were a few pages too long though
Would I recommend it? Yes. If you like zombie books that aren’t really zombie books, full of apocalypse and survival, this is the one for you.
Would I look up the author? Yes, I can’t wait to read the next one: The Life Beyond.
The Other Life was everything I wanted it to be and I could read it over and over.
This was the first dystopian book that I have read that has given me nightmares and I mean that in a very complimentary way, there is a scene near the end that scared me and that does not happen easily as I am redhead just like the main character in this story.
Set in Los Angeles, It has been 3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since Sherry had last been outside she lives in a bunker with her parents, brother, sister and grandmother. They live underground because rabies has ravaged the population above ground and the population where advised to stay underground, but stuck below Sherry and her family are slowly running out of food, slowly running out of time.
They need to get out, to explore and find provisions in order to survive, but the question is will they survive when they escape the bunker?
Sherry and her father leave the relative safety of their bunker to search for food, on arrival outside they discover the neighbourhood is deserted, their neighbours gone and more worryingly dead bodies lying on a lawn, fresh dead bodies.
They quickly leave the house after hearing eerie roars and seeing movement out the corner of their eyes, they drive away but the feeling of being watched haunts Sherry.
They arrive at large supermarket and quickly set to work to find food, however they are attacked by creatures, Weepers - humans who have been infected by the rabies outbreak and turned in to predators, truly the stuff of nightmares. Sherry's father is captured and Sherry narrowly misses being captured too but is rescued by Joshua who lives with another group of survivors and they take Sherry in.
The rest of the story deals with Sherry's attempt to rescue her father and to find a safe place to live.
The Weepers are truly frightening, the worst thing about them is the stock piling of their victims, so they have a live supply on hand, it is difficult to picture them as normal human beings before the virus took hold of them.
One particular bit that stood out for me was the aforementioned scene near the end of the book, which involves Sherry lying in bed hearing a tapping at the window and it is not coming from a tree branch, I read this part late one dark night, it really gave me shivers!
Susanne has written an extremely good story, as you know I love a good dystopian novel as I truly believe this is something that could befall us all one day.
So yes my opinion of this book is it is a great read, aimed at the young adult market but as an older reader I really enjoyed it and you should give it a try!
There is another book in this series The Life Beyond which I will review in the coming month.
on 19 May 2013
The Other Life follows a fairly common dystopian plot - teenage girl, virus outbreak, end of civilization as we know it. Winnacker has tried to deviate from the norm by starting the story in a bunker, where (in a rare occurrence in YA) Sherry can be found with all of her family safe and sound. They entered the bunker four years previously when a human form of rabies broke out in LA, many others entered similar private bunkers and some went to communal shelters. But now the families food is gone, there has been no contact from other bunkers for well over a year and they have a choice - starve or go up to the surface and try to get some more food. Sherry and her father go - leaving her brother, mum and gran (and dead grandfather in the freezer) behind. Upon reaching the surface Sherry and her father realize that La's been destroyed, and they are soon attacked by the infected `weepers' - Sherry is rescued by the gorgeous Joshua but her father is taken, its time for Sherry to decide whether to save herself or risk everything to find her father.
I read a few scathing reviews of The Other Life, and part of me understands them, but I do think they are also a little harsh. There were many annoyances about the novel, firstly the endless counting of days, minutes etc - the reader doesn't care how many minutes its been since she had an apple, they really don't. I get that Winnacker was trying to make it a bit different and a character quirk, but it didn't really work. The second issue I have was the flash backs to the `other life' pre-virus - they were cute but had no order, didn't reveal anything about the characters and didn't really add to the story - had the flash backs revealed that she's release the virus or something silly like that they'd of been worth while, but they didn't - they were just fillers.
Having said that I loved the premise, I was thinking its a bit like a zombie version of Brendan Fraser's 90`s movie `Blast from the Past' - how could that be bad? And it wasn't bad, its not a literacy classic, but I liked Sherry and her attitude, she wasn't an instant Katniss, she had to really struggle through her emotions and faced the situations as most 16 years olds would - she was terrified. I also think the scene that really made the book for me was the Weeper at the window. It freaked me out. Sometimes the classics are classics for a reason, and this is one of them! I also loved the fact that Winnacker didn't need to put tragedy into Sherry's life before the book, she's not alone in the world and that is what makes the book more realistic.
I read the book quickly, its not a genre leader but it sits comfortably in the ranks of `good' its certainly much better than some of the trash I've read over the years and I'd be happy to pick up more in the series or more work from the author, in fact she's going on my to-watch list! I'd say this is a good summer book, nothing too taxing but entertaining all the same, just don't read that window seen in the dark.
on 18 January 2013
This is another book that I'd heard a lot of great stuff about. I even entered many competitions to win a copy but I was never successful so I was overjoyed to be approved on Netgalley. As you probably all know by now I'm a big fan of dystopian and post apocalyptic novels so this sounded perfect to me. Right, Just look at the cover and how the blood red butterfly contrasts on the plain white background. Inside the butterfly is our main characters running for their lives while spooky clawed hands reach for them. The cover in itself is very clever and very informative, from a first glance you wouldn't even notice those details or the blood drops that are falling from the butterflies wings. I think this kinda contrasts with the synopsis which is rather vague but once you read the novel you see that there is so much more to it, there's loads of small details and a brilliant writing style that cannot be observed from reading the synopsis alone. This really is a book that you have to sit back and enjoy taking in all the gory details, feeling the characters pain and the loss of their old world or "Other Life". I really enjoyed the novel and I'm looking forward to the sequel.
The Other Life begins in a sealed bunker with Sherry and her family as they open their last tin of food. The panic and devastation the family feel in these opening paragraphs is so well done. You really get the feel of their desperation and need to survive, they're not ready to give up on their world just yet. Sherry and her father have to leave the safe confides of their bunker to go search for food. Upon exiting the bunker they see their world has been left in ruins. The whole town has been bombed, houses are covered in soot, bodies litter the streets and what's worse is there is no one to be seen. Things must have gotten so much worse while they were inside. Sherry and her father make their way to a local supermarket in search of food. Once inside something horrid begins chasing them and her father is captured. Sherry only just escapes but she feels so guilty for leaving her father behind. While running away she finds Joshua, a fellow survivor who takes her back to Safe Haven, where a few other survivors are living together. Sherry persuades Joshua to help her look for her father before time runs out, so they set out on the journey not knowing if either will come back alive.
I really did love this story and the growth of Sherry's character. She started as a young girl, I would even say she was child like as she'd been stuck in the bunker for so long without developing any life skills, surrounded by just her family. That's going to effect your upbringing somehow. Sherry picks up the courage to leave the bunker with her father and it's here we see how strong she is. Upon seeing the world or "other life" in ruins she is devastated but she holds it together. She keeps going because she knows her family's survival depends on her. When her father is taken she's scared and feels guilty but she knows she must find him. She's a very driven character and I liked that about her, she seemed to grow up so much once outside the bunker. We see her fear when she comes face to face with the weepers but that doesn't stop her from going into their lair. Love is more powerful than fear after all. Her fathers life depends on her saving him in time.
I really enjoyed her and Joshua's relationship and how at first he was hesitant and not very open with her. Even when she put him in danger he still wanted to save her and his courage and even love saved her many times. He was a trained weeper hunter and she'd never picked up a weapon in her life so of course she proved a burden on his hunts. Yes, he lost his temper with her but I think once he saw the love she had for her family he found that they were very similar after all. Joshua watched his family be killed by weepers and it wasn't until later he saw one of his sister had been turned into one of those monsters. He vowed to save her and that's just what Sherry was trying to do as well. I'm smiling just thinking about the end of the book with the pair of them, lets just say they show their feelings to each other and the full extent of them.
The devastated world that the author creates is very haunting and leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Its pretty spooky because one day this may happen and our world could fall into ruins just like that. Oh and the weepers were so scary, with teary eyes and many mutations. They really did send a shiver down my spine. I'm just going to add here about why the family are in a sealed bunker. There was a huge outbreak of rabies that caused mutations. The government ordered everyone into bunkers and said they would get them when things were safe again. The thing is all contact was lost and the world above fell into ruin. It wasn't going to be safe again, the government had fallen and those who are left were fighting for their lives. There was just so much thought into the history and past of the story, it was greatly done. Oh and that ending was action packed and I loved it so much! I cannot wait to see what happens in the sequel.
The Other Life is a haunting post-apocalyptic novel about the power of love in desperate times and hidden strength and courage, that could one day save your life. I really recommend this novel it's very interesting and rather unique.
on 30 August 2012
The Other Life is the first book to come from Susanne Winnacker, and another book added to Usborne's growing YA list. I received this proof sometime last Summer and as soon as I read the synopsis on the back, I thought ooh... this sounds good. I read the first chapter and loved it, but felt that it was too early to be reading it with it not actually due for publication until next month... So I decided to put it away for a rainy day once 2012 had gotten here...
Fast forward to last week and I found myself mulling over a few titles, The Other Life being one of them. I looked at the cover and for the first time noticed that the butterfly isn't a simple butterfly. There's 2 characters, who I not know to be Sherry and Joshua..., and some creepy looking clawed hands. Those of the Weepers. This realisation made me go ooh... I picked it up and re-read the first chapter and once that happened, the rest is history.
I've already tweeted Susanne, so she knows how I feel about the book. It was an explosion of "GOOD LORD THIS IS AMAZING..." and so on... But I should explain further.
The Other Life is set in the not too distant future in LA. We know it to be the sun-kissed home of celebrities and Hollywood, but Sherry knows it as home. But the LA we see in this book is completely different to the LA we all know about today. Sherry and her family have been locked away in a bunker, hiding from a disease which has ravished parts of America. Rabies. People are dying, and a state of emergency is called. The government asks its people to remain calm and tells them that they will be notified when it is safe to emerge... But three years later, nothing is happening and the broadcasts have stopped. Soon, Sherry and her family run out of food and desperation sinks in. Surely after three years it'll be safe?
Now there is something new to contend with. Weepers. Mutilated humans who have been turned by rabies into flesh craving, blood hungry monsters. Their favourite dish? Humans. Now, I know what you're thinking... Ugh... Another zombies-turned-into-zombies-by-disease/famine/war/whatever-else-makes-zombies book? and when I first read about them I thought the same, but these are different. Yes, they have a zombie element about them, but they are original. They're called Weepers because a milky substance falls from their eyes, giving them the appearance of crying; their flesh falls away - this made me think of lepracy and just general decay. It's almost like they're no longer human or living, to me, I felt like they were rotting humans and nothing more... Apart from the fact they don't go around blurting out "Brains... brains...". They actually have some sense of intelligence and their eyes look intelligent too. I can't really explain it very well, I'll leave that to Susanne, but still. Wow!
The book is brilliantly written and I don't really want to say much more about what happens because it really would spoil it. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you going, the writing as I've already said is freaking amazing. Susanne has created something beautiful here that really stands out the current flood of dystopian fiction.
I really cannot wait for the sequel, The Life Beyond due out in 2013!! So far away!
on 28 August 2012
"Danger isn't the only thing that makes your heart beat faster."
The Other Life: Who we were before the virus. How we'll never be again. It's been 3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since Sherry has seen daylight. When things went wrong up above, she was sealed off from the world in a bunker with her family. But when they run out of food, Sherry and her dad must venture outside. There they find devastation, desolation... and the weepers: savage mutant killers.
When Sherry's dad is snatched from her , she joins Joshua. He's handsome and strong but he's also troubled and his thirst for revenge against the weepers may put them both at risk.
"The Seeds of first love are sown amongst the death and destruction of a nightmare future in this incredible debut novel. Beautifully and gut-wrenchingly gripping, it's essential reading." - Amazon
For a debut, this is phenomenal! This novel puts Susanne Winnacker high up on the ladder of dystopian fiction. The plot injects adrenaline into your veins while the characters grasp at your heart strings, hanging on by their fingertips.
I read this book in one sitting which is something I usually try to avoid, but could not resist, doing.
The characterisation was so real compared to other books. Sherry isn't your typical "Katniss Everdeen" as so many protagonists are wrongly compared to. She doesn't know how to throw a knife or make it hit its target every time. Joshua isn't invincible. He's not superman. He's a teenage boy trying to survive in this all to real hell of a world.
I loved this book to pieces! Definitely a new favourite! It's the first in a planned trilogy and I'm dying to get my hands on the next book!
The only negative thing I can say about this novel is that it ended all too soon! ;D *sigh* At least there's a sequel!! :D
YA - dystopian - apocalypse - romance - ***** 5 stars