Title – Among Monsters
Author – Jamie McGuire
Publication Date – October 31, 2014
Series – Red Hill Companion Novella
Being thirteen has pitfalls of its own, but growing up has never been this hard.
Jenna had promised her mother that if the worst happened during her dad’s weekend, they would meet at Red Hill Ranch. When she finds seven words spray-painted on her dad’s wall the morning after a deadly outbreak, she makes a promise to herself: to get to the ranch with her seven-year-old sister, Halle, and to get them both there alive.
Among Monsters is the companion novella to Red Hill, both exploring from different perspectives what many broken families experience every other weekend: What if your children aren’t with you when the world ends? What would you do to get to them? What would they go through to get to you?
For Jenna, seeing her mother again is worth everything. Determined to keep her promise, she is faced with experiences and decisions that force her to leave her childhood behind.
I think it’s an incredible feat when you know the ending of a book, yet the author still pulls you through the myriad of emotions while reading it. From reading Red Hill, we knew that Jenna and Halle would get to their mom in Among Monsters. However, I still felt every piece of angst, fear, sadness, and even joy, right alongside these two girls. Their story was one that needed to be heard and I am so glad that Jamie McGuire told it!
“She’s my mom. If I scrape my knee, I call for her.”
Among Monsters occurs along the same time line of events as Red Hill; there has been an epidemic and people are rapidly being turned into zombies. However, it is told solely through the eyes of Jenna – a thirteen year old girl trying to get to her mother. Everything has changed and the world she woke up in is gone. Jenna is forced to grow up in the blink of an eye and accept that her world will never be the same. She is determined to meet Scarlet at Red Hill and is relentless in her pursuit to get there.
“If I’m sick, I ask for her.”
Reading a whole different dimension to the story was absolutely marvelous and breathtaking. At times, I could so strongly see Scarlet in Jenna with her strength and determination. Then there were times where she just became her own person. I loved the handful of moments where she would think about Chloe or have a teenage temper tantrum. It was in these contrasting instances that you realized just how much growing up Jenna had really done. Her character was fierce and a fighter and definitely left an impression on me. She had qualities instilled in her that I would want my daughter to have and it really made her an admirable heroine in my eyes.
“If I’m scared, I cry for her.”
As a mom, I think the story hit me really hard because of how strongly Jenna believed in her mother’s love. Where Red Hill was about Scarlet’s will and drive and belief in seeing her children, Among Monsters hit me in a completely different way. This book was about the bond between parents and their children. It was about knowing the protection and security a parent can offer, and the heartwarming feeling that creates. There were instances where Scarlet was close, without knowing, and in those moments my heart broke; so close yet so far, and it just made me ache. Even with little dialogue between Scarlet and Jenna, the bond and love in this family unquestionably shone through.
“If there’s an apocalypse, I’m going to the ends of the earth for her.”
I absolutely loved this book and I’m incredibly glad that Jamie McGuire chose to let the girls’ voices be heard. I felt an overwhelming desire to hug my daughter many times while reading this book because the emotions were just so authentic. It was a journey of growth and determination, but it was heartfelt and heart jolting at times. You’ll definitely feel a rollercoaster of emotions, but in the best way possible. Among Monsters is an absolute perfect companion to the Red Hill novel!
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“So, we’re going?” I asked.
At the same time, a low moan sounded behind me, and something lunged at Dad from around the corner. I didn’t look. I just swung my bat at what I thought to be at head level. It wasn’t like the video games or television shows. I hadn’t seen it coming. No scary music had built the suspense or indicated foreshadowing.
I could hear Dad struggling behind me, but all I could think about was the mouth belonging to the infected coming at me and keeping it away from my skin. The adrenaline made everything both sharp and blurry. In one moment, I was next to its bloodstained clothes and dry, scratchy skin, and the next, it was standing in front of me, reaching out again. I wasn’t quite sure how I’d gotten away.
He was tall. I couldn’t kick his knees out from under him, so I swung the bat as hard as I could. That wasn’t like the video game either. The vibration from the impact traveled up the bat and into my arms, startling me, but the creature fell, and I swung at his head. The bat met his skull with a crack, but I didn’t stop until the bone gave way.
Dad grabbed my collar, and we ran south—away from the school, away from the house. The groans from the infected had attracted more.
“We’ve got to lead them away from the house!” Dad said. “This way!”
We sprinted through backyards, hopped over fences, and dodged plastic pools and swing sets until we made a full circle, sneaking into April’s backyard once we were sure it was clear.
“Oh,” I said, noticing Dad was covered in dark goo.
“I panicked,” he said. “I was trying to get him off me, so I could help you.”
“I held my own,” I said.
“I noticed. You weren’t bit?” he asked.
“No,” I said, shaking my head. “You?”
Until that moment, I hadn’t been truly afraid. I hadn’t realized that something as simple as a bite could take Dad away from me. He would die, and Halle and I would be on our own.
He pulled open the back door of April’s house, and once it was closed behind us, he hugged me, and I sobbed into his chest.
Jamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, OK. She attended the Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.
Jamie paved the way for the New Adult genre with international bestseller, Beautiful Disaster. Her follow-up novel Walking Disaster debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. She has also written apocalyptic thriller Red Hill, a novella titled A Beautiful Wedding, and the Providence series, a young adult paranormal romance trilogy.
Jamie lives on a ranch just outside Enid, OK with husband Jeff and their three children. They share their 30 acres with cattle, six horses, three dogs, and Rooster the cat.
Find Jamie at http://www.jamiemcguire.com or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!