Title: Paradise Girl
Author: Phill Featherstone
Genre: YA Dystopian
Warnings: Lots of death, attempted assault
Silver linings of warnings: Some of the best written suspenseful scenes I’ve read in a long while.
A highly infectious and incurable virus spreads worldwide. Seventeen-year-old Kerryl Shaw and her family live on a remote farm and think they will be safe, but the plague advances. Despite deaths around them, the Shaws survive. However, this changes when a stranger arrives, and it soon becomes apparent he has brought the infection to their door. One by one the family succumbs, leaving Kerryl alone.
Kerryl is sure it’s only a matter of time before she, too, dies. She decides to record what she thinks will be her final days in a diary. She realises that it will never be read, so she imagines a reader and calls him Adam. As loneliness and isolation affect the balance of her mind, Adam ceases to be an imaginary character and becomes real to her…
This book gave me chills. I was so tense reading it the entire time, and in one go, that my shoulders hurt by the time that I was done. I was that tense.
Kerryl is stuck in a truly horrific situation, with no parallel in any book that I’ve recently read, or can recall though I do suffer from some memory issues. (No. Seriously) She is a character who is filled with hope, and it was heartbreaking to see that hope start to shift to despair and pain shift into delusion.
The loss of her mother nagged at me, but when her grandparents passed, trying to keep her safe I found myself fighting back tears.
With the reveal at the end of the novel I felt nothing but anger, that someone would use humans for experimentation and in such a cruel way, driving Kerryl to insanity versus trying to find a cure. Perhaps it upset me so much because it felt realistic.
Either way this was a thriller that kept me guessing on what was going to happen next. And you know the writing is masterful when even the times someone is completely alone talking about chores can still manage to capture your attention.