Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Strain by Amelia C. Gormley

Reviewed by Whuppsy
Strain by Amelia C. Gormley
Riptide Publishing
Novel: 375pgs
5 Pants Off

Rhys Cooper is a dead man. Cut off from the world since childhood, he’s finally exposed to the lethal virus that wiped out most of the human race. Now his only hope for survival is infection by another strain that might confer immunity. But it’s sexually transmitted, and the degradation he feels at submitting to the entire squad of soldiers that rescued him eclipses any potential for pleasure—except with Darius, the squadron’s respected, capable leader.

Sergeant Darius Murrell has seen too much death and too little humanity. He’s spent a decade putting plague victims out of their misery and escorting survivors to a safe haven he can never enjoy. He’d rather help Rhys live than put him down, so when Rhys can’t reconcile himself to doing what’s necessary to survive, Darius is forced to save Rhys in spite of himself.

But with each passing day, it looks less and less likely that Rhys can be saved. Which means that soon Darius might have to put a bullet in the head of the one person in years who reminds him of what it means to be human.

I will tell you that I read the blurb on the Riptide Website and I requested this book because it sounded so unlike anything that I’d read before. I’ve not read a bunch of Post-Apocalyptic books before and I wanted to stretch my brain a bit and see if I could be carried away. I WAS!!! Barely stopped to sleep, I had to finish this book!!!

This was not an easy story. This was such a harsh world that Rhys and the others lived in. The story wasn’t one of things/the world getting better, however, it was about survival. This is a complex story regarding just what you will do to survive and what you need to survive.

Let’s begin with what happened to the world, hmm? So there was this man-made virus that was to be used in viral warfare, the virus worked-ish. There was the main virus Alpha that was created for the Juggernauts. These were soldiers who were first infected and used as guinea pigs to see how the virus worked. They now protect survivors from the Zombie like creatures called Revs. Revs were people who got a certain mutated strain of the virus and it didn’t kill them, however, what it did was change them until there wasn’t a shred of humanity left. The other mutated strain of the virus become Rot which is just basically saying that you’re going to die. No ands, ifs or buts about it. Nothing can stop it.

Rhys is a 19 year old young man who has lived the past 7 years in hiding from the Revs and Rot. He has been emotionally and physically abused almost from the moment he and his family arrived. He was made to feel that his being gay was against God and the Church. The religious zealot that ran the monastery and his son, were Rhys’ chief tormentors. We don’t get to see it first hand, but due to what Rhys says and his feelings and the memories that we are privy too, you get a clear vision of what his life was like.

Rhys actions throughout most of this book were so very complex and yet so very simple. He was fighting about 7 years worth of abuse in regards to what he wanted and what he craved, both sexually and emotionally. The want/the cravings that Rhys has were so mired in the harsh, religious household from which he’d been living in.

Darius was a different sort of Alpha Man for me I loved that he took on the responsibility to help Rhys out. But I also loved just the way he led his team. The strength of character and strength of mind that he showed throughout the book also drew me to him. I liked that even when he finally really owned up to wanting Rhys and the possessive feelings that he’d been having for awhile, that he still wanted to make sure that make sure that it was something that Rhys wanted. That he didn’t just gloss over them and take what he wanted, just made me fall a bit for him.

Now, I will say that this book was a really dark read. There is lots of sex in here. That must be known from the get go. You also should know that a lot of what happens is dubious consent. Rhys has to have sex with multiple men in the hopes that he will get cured from an infection that he received in the very beginning of the book. If you don’t like sex with multiple partners and what is considered dubious consent, this might not be the book for you.

I liked the secondary characters in this book. Each of them was different in temperament and yet they were all such skilled warriors. Xolani was my FAVORITE Character in this story. She was a wonderfully strong female character. She was tough and decisive. She is a strong second in command for Darius. Where he needs to see not only the obvious, but to see what needs to be done. She is AMAZING!! I love how she says some very insightful things that really makes you pause and think about the meaning of her words. The other guys/gals that make up the Jugs are pretty cool as well. No one that survived has had an easy life and yet, through it all, they retain this wonderful sense of humanity.

Overall, this book was so very well done. The story actually flowed so smoothly that I couldn’t believe that it was over. Amelia had me from the very first page until the very end. I liked that it was more a HFN, we don’t know how it truly ends. Just that this part is over. I liked that both Rhys and Darius had some issues to work on that eventually they had to learn to speak to each other and actually say what they wanted and how they felt. It was such a dark, complex story with wonderful world-building.

You. Will. Not. Be. Disappointed. By. Reading. This. Book.

5 Pants Off

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