STARRED REVIEW
July 09, 2019

Two addicting sci-fi thrillers

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Some people love to celebrate the lazy days of summer with relaxing books set on the misty moors of Scotland or far-off beaches in the South Pacific. But for those of us who would prefer a jolt of adrenaline, The Girl in Red and Salvation Day offer enough frantic sci-fi adventure to chase the summer blues away.

STARRED REVIEW
July 09, 2019

Two addicting sci-fi thrillers

Feature by

Some people love to celebrate the lazy days of summer with relaxing books set on the misty moors of Scotland or far-off beaches in the South Pacific. But for those of us who would prefer a jolt of adrenaline, The Girl in Red and Salvation Day offer enough frantic sci-fi adventure to chase the summer blues away.

July 09, 2019

Two addicting sci-fi thrillers

Feature by

Some people love to celebrate the lazy days of summer with relaxing books set on the misty moors of Scotland or far-off beaches in the South Pacific. But for those of us who would prefer a jolt of adrenaline, The Girl in Red and Salvation Day offer enough frantic sci-fi adventure to chase the summer blues away.

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Some people love to celebrate the lazy days of summer with relaxing books set on the misty moors of Scotland or far-off beaches in the South Pacific. But for those of us who would prefer a jolt of adrenaline, The Girl in Red and Salvation Day offer enough frantic sci-fi adventure to chase the summer blues away.

Christina Henry is well known for her often dark and always enthralling takes on classic fairy tales. Her latest endeavor, The Girl in Red, follows in this tradition. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where a dangerous plague has driven survivors to quarantine camps and lawlessness, Henry’s new novel is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood—if Red were a biracial 20-something with a prosthetic foot, anxiety issues and the woodsman’s axe. Refusing to go to a quarantine camp, Red is instead determined to hike the hundreds of miles to the safety of her grandmother’s home. But with the world gone mad, there are darker things lurking in the woods than mere wolves.

The Girl in Red is equal parts psychological horror and post-apocalyptic survivor story, and it manages to harness the best qualities of both. Remarkably slow-paced for such a stressful novel, Henry’s story allows us to see and feel what Red sees and feels, nothing more. The narrowness in scope feels like having blinders on, forcing us to question whether the bumps in the night that terrify Red are monsters or misunderstandings. That same narrowness also grounds the story. By focusing on the pain—both physical and mental—that comes from Red’s long journey, Henry avoids making her remarkable characters feel small and unimportant in the face of the end of the world.

While The Girl in Red is singularly focused on the struggles of one woman, Kali Wallace’s Salvation Day is far grander in scope. The plot centers on what should have been a flawless heist. Zahra and the members of her “family” knew every inch of the plan to commandeer the House of Wisdom, a research vessel abandoned a decade earlier after a deadly plague swept through its hulls. What they could not plan for was what they learned once they got on board—that the virus that wiped out House of Wisdom was far worse and far different from what the government reported. And that they may have woken it up.

Salvation Day isn’t terrifying because of its premise—plenty of virus and zombie films should be scary and are instead just laughable or sad. It is terrifying instead because of Wallace’s sense of timing. She builds the story of the theft of the ship more like a story about war: long periods of tension punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Zahra and her compatriots spend a lot of their time on the ship exploring and learning about its fate rather than dealing with the still-present biological threat. Those lulls of relative calm make the action more intense and startling when it does occur, forcing readers to wonder with bated breath just what lurks beyond that next corner.

While different in scale, The Girl in Red and Salvation Day are similar in one very important way: Once you pick them up, it’s unlikely that you’ll put them down any time soon.

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Get the Books

The Girl in Red

The Girl in Red

By Christina Henry
Berkley
ISBN 9780451492289
Salvation Day

Salvation Day

By Kali Wallace
Berkley
ISBN 9781984803696

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