The Rains: An original zombie novel where teenagers take centre stage

The Rains by Gregg Hurwitz YA horror book reviewsThe Rains by Gregg Hurwitz

The once-trusted adults of Creek’s Cause have turned into zombies. Asteroid 9918 Darwinia has hit the small town, and in one terrifying night, no one under eighteen is safe any more. Chance Rain and his brother Patrick find themselves pitted against a town full of zombies after their aunt and uncle turn. And what’s more, it’s looking like the infection will spread further than Creek’s Cause if they don’t do something to warn the rest of the world.

Zombie novels are by no means a new concept, but Gregg Hurwitz adds an innovative and fresh spin to his addition to the genre. First off, The Rains reads more like a sci-fi novel than a horror, and the addition of YA elements makes for the perfect mix. The asteroid and the spores that infect adults are seemingly alien, and it seems the zombies — or Hosts, as our protagonist Chance names them — are scouting earth for their alien counterparts in space.

Sequel

Chance himself is your classic YA underdog with an unwavering admiration for his older brother — who will be turning eighteen in less than a week. Suddenly the race is on to try and find a way to save Patrick. But another dilemma is soon added to the mix, and it comes in the form of Patrick’s girlfriend, Alex, whom Chance also happens to be in love with. This was one of the most compelling internal conflicts in the novel and is probably the last thing Chance needs in a town full of zombies. What’s a kid to do?

Having set out on their quest to save Alex, they come across some stray children whose parents have turned zombie, and along with his pack of dogs, Chance and Patrick take them under their wing. After they manage to rescue Alex (who’s been locked in a trunk by her own father… eek…) the motley group head to the safest place they can think of: the school. But what they find there comes as a surprise to all of them.

The Rains is perfectly paced and keeps the adrenaline high, a must-have for any YA thriller. Action scenes are punctuated by Chance’s internal dilemmas and we soon find ourselves rooting for this kind-hearted younger brother who’s had to grow up too fast. What’s more, Hurwitz writes in a compelling voice that will surely have younger reading turning the pages. Chance’s commentary on the action is both heart-warming and wry, and absolutely electric when the chase scenes come.

One minor gripe is that some of the additional cast seems a little flat. Apart from the obvious antagonists, an enemy comes in the form of Ben, an angry teen who wants to take charge of the remaining stragglers. He is a far cry from the more dynamic leading duo, and seems like he’s only there to cause tension and conflict. Another minor character is Chance’s school teacher, Dr Chatterjee, who could’ve had some really interesting plot lines had they been fleshed out more. But nonetheless, the rest of the cast is diverse, if not entirely believable, and they don’t detract much from the overall enjoyment of the book.

Readers of YA, sci-fi and horror alike will delight in this genre-blending offering from Hurwitz. And with a mammoth of a cliffhanger at The Rains’ conclusion, you’ll find yourself desperate for the next instalment, too.

Publication date: October 18, 2016. The first young adult page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Gregg Hurwitz. In one terrifying night, the peaceful community of Creek’s Cause turns into a war zone. No one under the age of eighteen is safe. Chance Rain and his older brother, Patrick, have already fended off multiple attacks from infected adults by the time they arrive at the school where other young survivors are hiding. Most of the kids they know have been dragged away by once-trusted adults who are now ferocious, inhuman beings. The parasite that transformed them takes hold after people turn eighteen–and Patrick’s birthday is only a few days away. Determined to save Patrick’s life and the lives of the remaining kids, the brothers embark on a mission to uncover the truth about the parasites–and what they find is horrifying. Battling an enemy not of this earth, Chance and Patrick become humanity’s only hope for salvation.

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RACHAEL "RAY" MCKENZIE, with us since December 2014, was weaned onto fantasy from a young age. She grew up watching Studio Ghibli movies and devoured C.S. Lewis’ CHRONICLES OF NARNIA not long after that (it was a great edition as well -- a humongous picture-filled volume). She then moved on to the likes of Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy and adored The Hobbit (this one she had on cassette -- those were the days). A couple of decades on, she is still a firm believer that YA and fantasy for children can be just as relevant and didactic as adult fantasy. Her firm favourites are the British greats: Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Neil Gaiman, and she’s recently discovered Ben Aaronovitch too. Her tastes generally lean towards Urban Fantasy but basically anything with compelling characters has her vote.

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One comment

  1. I didn’t really believe “original” in your heading, but I do how the author is doing something a little different here. It looks like fun. Thanks for an informative review!

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