Juniper Unraveling

Review by Cupcake

3.5 Stars

First, let me get a couple of caveats out of the way. I don’t do zombies. They gross me out and I don’t like them. Though Ragers aren’t labeled as such, that’s what they are. I also don’t like motorcycle men/clubs/whatever. They aren’t my jam. Guess what’s also in this book? I got about 2% in when I figured out what was what and you should’ve seen the look on my face when I realized I’d chosen a %^&%$# zombie book! Fit to be tied, I was. God damn cover being all intriguing and whatnot.

Now, having said all that it’s a miracle I even finished this thing much less enjoyed it, but I did. I didn’t LOVE it, but there’s a lot to like about it, so bear the caveats in mind if you’re at all interested in reading it.

Keri Lake is a new to me author and she has a writing style that draws you in. There were times when I thought the pacing dragged, but the overall story arc was engaging and kept my attention despite the zombies and motorcycles, owing mostly to the strong worldbuilding.

I don’t want to get a whole lot into the plot because of spoiling but I will say the romance reminded me a lot of The Notebook only set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia that’s 14 different kinds of fucked up and you could legit have your face eaten off at any second. But, details. Anyhoo, remember how cute they were when they first meet? They’re always together just hanging out and doing nothing? I had those feels except these two like to bone. I’m not mad about that either. For some reason I liked the first half of the book better than the second half, though I can’t really pinpoint why exactly. However, the heart of the romance is one that should speak to the inner squishy marshmallow of all romance readers.

If there is a weak point in the narrative it’s these characters. They don’t really pop off the page. I didn’t love any of them nor do I feel like I know them like I feel I should. They seem mostly cookie cutter post apocalyptic/trying to survive/general badassery… think Katniss. The rest of the cast is made up of caricaturish villains and an alpha to top all the alphas in all the land and there were any number of alphas. I would’ve liked to have had his POV or maybe just to have understood his mindset better, though.

Let’s talk a minute about the violence, because there is a lot of it. Trigger warnings for off page rape, child abuse/neglect and a whole lot of gross monsters doing gross things. Some of it I thought veered towards gratuitous, but I can’t say that I didn’t get the Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! message and lest you forget I am a delicate flower so, grain of salt. I would caution anyone who is squeamish to know your limitations. Also if you’re a stickler for your protags being upstanding and moral… errrm, this might not be the book for you? Heed the dark tag warning!

The sex is fairly frequent and rough with some breath play. Some of it’s hot, some of it’s fair to middling and none of it changed my life.

What Lake does that spoke to me was subtext. This world she’s created is built on lies and illusions that led me down the yellow brick road to a comparison with contemporary society. She also has great insight into human nature that speaks to an inherent compassion that resonated.

You see the world as it is. I see the world as it isn’t. But what we see individually is molded by our past, our experiences, and our hopes of what’s to come. Always remember that everyone has a story, and you’ll never know hate for another human being as long as you live.

I pray, in time, your generation will heal from our mistakes. Perhaps you’ll come to know the truth that somehow escaped us along the way- there isn’t a vaccine in creation that can cure hatred and indifference to human suffering. They are the most virulent diseases in existence.

Preachy perhaps, but I liked it. These sentiments seem to be fitted into the narrative in organic ways rather than shoehorned in to make a point.

Recommended to zombie, post apocalyptic, dystopian and romance fans. Just watch out for that violence; it’s a killer.

Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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