Publisher: Balzer + Bbray
Published: August 2013
Genre: young adult, dystopian, post-apocalyptic
Baalboden has been ravaged. The brutal Commander’s whereabouts are unknown. And Rachel, grief stricken over her father’s death, needs Logan more than ever. With their ragged group of survivors struggling to forge a future, it’s up to Logan to become the leader they need—with Rachel by his side. Under constant threat from rival Carrington’s army, who is after the device that controls the Cursed One, the group decides to abandon the ruins of their home and take their chances in the Wasteland.
But soon their problems intensify tenfold: someone—possibly inside their ranks—is sabotaging the survivors, picking them off one by one.
After the fire that destroyed Baalboden, Logan and Rachel do their best to lead, train, and care for the 150 survivors. The only way to stay out of the Commander’s grasp, Rowansmark’s eyes, and Carrington’s army is to flee through the Wasteland to Lankenshire, a scholarly city-state that may be able to help Logan recreate the device that controls the Cursed One. But the travels prove harsh, and Rachel’s grief and sanity is tried and tested. Someone within their band of travelers is a killer.
I loved how Redwine goes into depth to explain the territory and history of the Wastelands. The reader finally gets a glimpse of just how much time has passed since the Cursed One burst through the earth. Some of the weary Baalboden travelers remember their childhood before the city-states, and comment on the city-scapes, structures, and a Ferris wheel they pass. It’s rather eerie, just how close to modern day this takes place. I also found the differences between each city-state fascinating. Rowansmark is technologically advanced, Carrington runs like a military state, Baalboden was uneducated and backward, and Lankenshire is very knowledgeable, advanced, and aware of the history of the city-states. So neat, seeing how the separation of the survivors turned out vastly different cultures.
The character development improved ten-fold, as well. Logan breaks out of his introverted shell and leads the best way he knows how: by coming up with as many intelligent plans and back-up plans as possible. Rachel, understandably, is filled with grief and vengeance, and appears to have PTSD triggered at the sight of blood. She struggles to maintain a strong facade, but it takes Quinn’s wisdom to help her come to terms with her emotions.
As far as the traitor in the camp, I found the person to be an obvious one — but their intentions and purpose was a complete surprise. The whole journey in this trilogy takes a major turn in the final 100 pages, and I am on the edge of my seat to see what Redwine brings next!