'Til The World Ends

By Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre, and Karen Duvall
Published on January 29th 2013
Published by: Harlequin Luna
Source: Netgalley
Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa

Before The Immortal Rules, there was the Red Lung, a relentless virus determined to take out all in its path. For Kylie, the miracle of her survival is also her burden-as a doctor at one of the clinics for the infected, she is forced to witness endless suffering. What's worse, strange things are happening to the remains of the dead, and by the time she befriends Ben Archer, she's beginning to wonder if a global pandemic is the least of her problems....

Thistle & Thorne by Ann Aguirre

After a catastrophic spill turns the country into a vast chemical wasteland, those who could afford it retreated to fortresses, self-contained communities run by powerful corporations. But for Mari Thistle, life on the outside-in the Red Zone-is a constant struggle. To protect her family, Mari teams up with the mysterious Thorne Goodman. Together, they'll face an evil plot in both the underworld of the Red Zone and the society inside the fortresses that could destroy those on the outside...for good.

Sun Storm by Karen Duvall

Sarah Daggot has been chasing storms since she was a child. But after the biggest solar flares in history nearly destroy the planet, she becomes a Kinetic, endowed by her exposure to extreme radiation with the power to sense coming storms-in the cosmos and beyond. And she's not the only one. Sarah believes the Kinetics are destined to join forces and halt the final onslaught of the sun. She'll vow to keep trying to convince the one missing link in their chain of defense, the enigmatic Ian Matthews, up until the world ends.
'Til the World Ends collects three dystopian/end-of-the-world scenarios, all in very different, yet sufficiently dark and terrible worlds.  Here are my thoughts on the individual stories:

Dawn of Eden: This story tells the beginnings of the Red Lung disease that shapes the post-apocalyptic universe of The Immortal Rules.  It's an engaging story -- I found myself staying up way later than usual to read it -- and very fast paced, as Kylie, a young doctor struggling to keep her patients and staff safe, faces down the newest horrific challenge associated with Red Lung.  She's someone who is used to being tough and calling the shots in her clinic, so not being in control of what's happening is clearly rough on her.  Even though things escalated quickly between Kylie and Ben, their relationship makes sense - it's kind of instalove, but I also feel like, hey, it's the end of the world, you find happiness where you can.  (I was still annoyed at how quickly they went from annoyance to crushes to I-love-you-forever, but whatever.)  Overall, "Dawn of Eden" is a strong story which ratchets up the fear and horror of the situation, gives backstory on the universe, and throws a few little tidbits out to astute readers to help connect the story to The Immortal Rules.  This story will still work for people who haven't read the source novel, as enough details are explained that it should still make sense.  Please note that even though The Immortal Rules is YA, this short story is not!  Aside from lots of scary, graphic violence and cursing, there's a pretty descriptive sex scene, so be aware of that.

Thistle & Thorne: Shamefully, this is the first story I've read by Ann Aguirre, although her other novels have been on my TBR list for a while. After reading "Thistle & Thorne", however, I'll definitely be bumping her stuff up on the list!  This story takes place in a world decimated by chemical spills and earthquakes, where the super-wealthy have walled themselves up in fortresses and left everyone else to suffer.  Our main character is Mari Thistle, who is dealing with fallout from a theft gone wrong; she has to team up with Thorne, a local tough guy sort who has an agenda of his own.  I loved Mari as a main character -- she is tough and resourceful and doesn't let her feelings or insecurities get in the way of  getting the job done.  She knows how to be just what Thorne needs so that they can work together and then get back to their own respective lives.  I loved the world that Aguirre created and if she ever writes any more books about Mari or Thorne, or the Red Zone in general, I am so there!  This story includes a lot of graphic violence (both real and threatened) and cursing, but no sexual content.

Sun Storm: I did not enjoy "Sun Storm" as much as I liked the other two stories.  It started out promising but by the end, I was making Grumpy Cat faces.  This story exists in a world where sun storms have destroyed much of the earth, and people get Sun Fever from exposure, which generally winds up in death, unless you're special for some unknown reason and thus wind up with super-powers.  Our main character Sarah is one of the lucky ones who survived exposure and got some super-powers in exchange. I didn't like Sarah that much.  Even though we're experiencing the story through her eyes, I still feel like we have a hard time getting in her head, especially as she changes her mind wildly from minute to minute.I also didn't buy her romance with Ian -- it had some aspects of "fated to be together" which always sort of annoys me, and then things just happen so fast, like maybe in a week or two tops.  Again, I know it's the apocalypse, you take what you can get, but it still feels forced.  Also, the ending was just such a quick fix that didn't seem to fit with the tone of the rest of the story.  So this one wasn't my favorite, but I wouldn't mind checking out future stories from Karen Duvall, since maybe this one just wasn't my cup of tea.  This story includes violence and a whole lot of making out.

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