Awakening in a bleak landscape as scarred as her body, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls surviving something terrible. Having no idea how many days—or weeks—have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: Ruthie has vanished.
And with her, nearly all of civilization. Where once-lush hills carried cars and commerce, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters—people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong.
In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get her Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider, let alone a woman who became a zombie and somehow turned back, but she finds help from an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. Smoke is her savior, and her safety. For the Beaters are out there. And the humans grip at survival with their trigger fingers. Especially when they learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, of weapons in a brave new world....
Cass woke up brutally scarred with no memory of where she is, only having the horrifying thought that her daughter is missing. In a land mostly barren she makes her way back to where she last saw Ruthie. Her journey is long and hard as the landscape isn't the only obstacle. A government plant turned hoards of people into mindless flesh eaters called Beaters. In the last stretch towards home, she meets up with the mysterious Smoke. He quickly becomes her only chance at surviving to find her daughter as she realizes the Beaters aren't the only threat. It's the other survivors that are much worse, and if they find out what she really is, they won't hesitate to eliminate her.
This book was a very original take on the idea of Zombies. What I loved most about it was while the threat of the Beaters was very real, that wasn't the only thing standing in Cass's way. In fact, the people were probably more dangerous as the Beaters were at least predictable. Suspicions run very high, and almost everyone is joining one faction or another, and always questioning each other's alliances. I imagine this was probably a pretty accurate look at what could happen in the event of such a major fallout. It is in most people's nature to join together and be led. It is just unfortunate that the majority of the leadership figures turn out to be corrupt in nature.
Cass is probably the strongest, yet most broken character I have ever read about. Her past has huge skeletons in it, and her coping methods made her a serious addict. However, she never once flounders in her determination to find her daughter. The obstacles she faces are absolutely stifling, making it amazing that she is able to continue on at all. Perhaps her "changed" nature did give her some help, but in the end it all came down to her iron clad will and perseverance. She is so afraid to care for anyone, and give her past this is completely understandable. However, her fear didn't stop her from showing compassion towards others, especially Smoke. Try as she might to just block him out, she quickly realizes that she actually cares for him. This story was as much about Cass's character growth as it was her journey to find her daughter, making it an absolutely incredible read.
The pacing of this book was excellent, as it more than kept my attention, yet didn't overwhelm. The last few pages of the book took off like a firecracker making me very unsure of how things would end. While it was a satisfying ending, I couldn't help but wonder at the abruptness of it, as I had originally thought this was a stand alone novel. I absolutely love these characters, so I was extremely happy to find out that Aftertime is in fact the start of a series. Make sure to check this book out, it will completely suck you in right from the start and make you really believe in a mother's love overcoming all obstacles; even the Apocalypse.