It seemed like a good idea at the start, but with the Red Hill series, Jamie McGuire has fallen into the trap of over-using clichés and taking shortcuts on the bits that readers want i.e. the romance.
The reader is enticed to read the first novel, Red Hill, by being asked the question: “When the world ends, can love survive?” You would be forgiven for thinking to yourself that this is going to be a scary, challenging journey where love triumphs over evil (zombies). Perfect for lovers of this genre, you would think. Jamie McGuire may have been a New York Times No.1 bestseller with previous novels, but these books leave readers a little disappointed.
Red Hill Book
Starting with a relatable scenario with a single mum (Scarlett) raising her daughters and finding life generally very tough, the reader is then thrown a curved ball. Everything changes dramatically with the arrival of a disturbing widespread pandemic. This would pique anyone’s interest. Add to that a single man and some youngsters out for a good time on a secluded ranch and you would expect things to get “hot”. This is a zombie romance novel after all. That’s the reason why we covered this book in our best zombie romance books article.
Where it all falls down in the first book in the Red Hill book series is that there are too many repetitions. Also, the expectation that readers will be able to believe that the characters can fight against a Zombie invasion through learning how to do it from movies. There was not enough time spent on developing the characters and making their reactions authentic in the situations in which they find themselves.
On the positive side, some readers in reviews of Red Hill Book Series felt that it was great that the characters knew what to do in the event of a deadly virus that turns people into flesh-eating zombies. It even made them feel a little reassured that all would be well in the future.
The fact that love can bloom in these unlikely circumstances appealed to the more romantically inclined readers and for signed-up zombie fiction lovers, this Red Hill book delivered enough to make them happy.
The companion book to Red Hill is called Among Monsters and, as if anything could be worse than being invaded by zombies, it’s being separated from your family as well. Especially when you are only thirteen years old.
The scenario is the now-common occurrence of children being shared by divorced parents, and when Jenna and her little sister, Halle are having their “Dad weekend” things go horribly wrong. Sticking to the plan, that in such an eventuality, Jenna would reunite with her mom at Red Hill Ranch, Jenna and Halle embark on that journey. It is a journey that robs them of their childhood and their innocence.
Some reviews of Among Monsters are extremely complimentary of Jamie McGuire’s writing and readers enjoyed how she wove the story into that of Red Hill in a satisfying way. Writing the book from a teenager’s point of view was clever and different and even made it a bit more of a chilling experience for the reader.
Being forgiving of some of the parts where you have to suspend credibility, aside i.e. everything you need to survive a zombie apocalypse found in one kitchen drawer- Jamie did an excellent job of writing a highly absorbing and enjoyable read when completing The Red Hill series. If you got interested in McGuire’s work, check out our Beautiful Disaster book review.