Publisher: Switch Press (2015)
eARC (485 pages)
Reading Challenges: Read 2015
Like everyone else living in Haven, seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness is an Immune–a carrier of the genetic mutation that protects her from the virus Hitler unleashed upon the world more than half a century ago. A virus that wiped out most of humanity and turned two-hundred million people into vamps. But after her best friend is brutally murdered and several attempts are made on her own life, Sophie becomes determined to find answers to what seems to be a conspiracy running generations deep. And when she questions the peace treaty that keeps her small community protected, Sophie begins to discover terrible truths about herself and what it means to be human in a world ruled by darkness.
Lindsay Brambles’ debut young adult novel is a story of an alternate universe: Hitler won the war, our modern technologies never evolved, and the Nazis’ terrifying reign still continues. This fast-paced novel will appeal to readers who guzzle up genre mashups and are looking for a fresh hybrid to sweep them away.
When I first heard about this book, I thought it sounded awesome. An alternate history had Hitler won the Second World War, basically an airborne vampire pathogen, and only a small portion of the world still human. It sounded too interesting to pass up.
Haven is the name of the small archipelago in the Pacific Ocean that is the last refuge of humanity. It is the only part of the planet not under the control of Hitler and his Nazis. At least officially Haven is a sovereign nation though the contents of the peace accords are kept secret. Maybe the Nazis are really still in control? We aren’t sure at the beginning of the novel.
Sophie is a resident of Haven. She is an Immune, possessing a genetic trait that renders her immune to the airborne vampire pathogen, Gomorrah. Thanks to this genetic trait, Immunes also possess blood that is immediately deadly to vampires.
Sophie, a seventeen year old high school senior, has spent her entire life learning about the vampire and the Second World War from the Immune perspective. She and all the residents of Haven are brought up to believe that vampires are only monsters. They need to be destroyed for humanity to thrive. All vampires are evil Nazis intent on the destruction of humanity.
Sophie isn’t buying all that propaganda. She has a different perspective thanks to her friendly relationship with Val, a vampire diplomat from the Nazi Embassy in Haven. She first met him through her father and his work as head of security for the President of Haven. Sophie has a different view on these vampires.
Life takes some twisting turns for Sophie and she ends up on a path she never expected. Suddenly she is looking into past crimes and then she becomes the target of attempted murder. Nowhere is safe if she keeps digging for answers. Val advises her to drop it but Sophie might be in too far to give up.
This story has such an intriguing concept that I was drawn into it. I kept wanting to know what would happen next even though I was calling most of the plot twists. The mere thought that Hitler could have won the war and become immortal is chilling. I know that is not a world I would want to live in even though it is a nifty starting point for a story.
Sophie is a really well-written character. Throughout the story we can see her growth as she puzzles over the information she uncovers and learns more about herself. She is a strong character whose strength and determination is needed to see her through to the end. She is also a bit idealistic, wanting to believe the best about her country even as she uncovers long-buried secrets. My only complaint about her is that she seems much older than seventeen.
Val is a complex character made more complex in that we learn about him as Sophie does. So much about him falls into the realm of the unknown. Sophie trusts him and, as we see him through her eyes, we are inclined to trust him as well. It is evident that his feelings for Sophie are real.
This novel read as a thriller and kept me turning the pages to find out what happened next. The way the ending left me, I am longing for a sequel. More of this well-imagined world would be amazing.
- You Read How Many Books? Reading Challenge
I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley for
review consideration. This in no way affects my opinion of the title
nor the content of this review.