This book was recommended to me by my good friend Sam @ Clues and Reviews, and when Sam makes a recommendation, you listen, acquire and read. While I’m not a huge fan of the cover, the story inside is much better than the cover would have you believe! The paperback is released on November 2nd but the ebook is available to buy now.
BEFORE THIS IS OVER by Amanda Hickie is a powerful, thought-provoking drama that looks at one family in the heart of a devastated community and compels us to ask: how far would I go to save my children?
Meet Hannah Halloran. Wife of Sean, mother of teenage Zac and little Oscar. Their comfortable home is in a suburb of a city unaffected by the deadly flu that’s killed thousands. But Hannah is tense. She’s worried about Zac’s vulnerability miles away at a crowded summer camp. She’s uneasy about Oscar’s boisterous play with the children at his school. Is physical contact wise when an epidemic is coming closer? Hannah fears that their safe little world is about to be blown apart. And she’s right. It’s time to get Zac home – if they can…
As the virus traps Hannah and her family in their neighbourhood and then within their own home, supplies of food, water and electricity dwindle. The battery life on their mobile phones fades, cutting them off from critical news bulletins. Sean’s confidence that the government will keep everyone safe is misplaced. Every day, Hannah has choices to make that will decide whether they live or die. Choices with devastating consequences. Just how far will she go to protect those she loves?
Originally published under the title AN ORDINARY EPIDEMIC.
Who knew a book that took place mainly in one location could keep me gripped for its entirety. Before This Is Over is a silent thriller – the thrills aren’t right there in your face but they’re bubbling under the surface the whole time. As Manba, a deadly virus, is sweeping the world, cities full of people are dying, the death toll rising each day and now it’s reached Sydney. But that’s okay because Hannah prepared for this, she stocked up on supplies, and is determined her family will survive this. But she didn’t plan for the electric and water being cut off, and she certainly didn’t plan for having an extra mouth to feed!
Whilst reading this novel, I felt a strong sense of unease, and that’s because I identified with Hannah so much it scared me. Zac and Oscar are her children, her priority, her first, last and everything, so when she reluctantly gives food to her neighbour, she’s very aware that is one less meal for her children. Hannah doesn’t want to share her supplies, and I don’t think I would in her situation either. And this moral dilemma plagues you throughout the whole book – would you give food to the old lady next door, supplies are low, you don’t know when it will be safe to go outside again? If you reluctantly agree to take in a child, one that is not your own, one you barely even know, do you give them the same size portions as your own children because one portion given away is one less portion you have for your own children? Needless to say, this is indeed a thought-provoking read, one that has you constantly questioning what you would do in Hannah’s situation.
This family must adapt every day, Zac is forced to grow up, and Oscar is shielded from as much of it as possible. As each day passes and the kids go to bed, that’s another day survived, but there’s no time to celebrate, you must begin thinking about how you will survive tomorrow and all that it will bring!
The events portrayed in this novel are so realistic, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was based on true events. Manba is a virus, so if you need complete realism in your novels, you’re safe here, there are no zombie apocalypses.
My only niggle with this one – I don’t think the novel needed to be quite so long. I felt at times, small parts of the story dragged. As this is a slow-paced read, with no fast action at all, at certain times, I felt we were given additional information that wasn’t really needed as it didn’t build on the tension in any way, or lay the foundation for something that was coming.
If you enjoy novels of a slower pace, which have you questioning how you would act, or are a fan of pandemic novels, I highly recommend Before This Is Over.