The Clearing by Samantha Cook: 5 out of 5 Stars
The Clearing by Samantha Cook is a suspenseful post-apocalyptic novel about a teenage girl named Ruby. Ruby desperately wants to see what lies beyond her tiny village of 300 people, but no one is allowed outside—unless of course you’re Sentenced. Sentenced people are forced to leave the village and venture out into an unknown world filled with “soulless”—otherwise known as zombies. Every Sentenced person has willingly run from the clearing and away from the only home they’ve ever know and Ruby doesn’t understand why. I mean, running into a forest filled with the undead is almost certain death, right? After Ruby gets into a bit of trouble with the town’s leader, Orwin, she and her friends embark on a heart-pounding journey of survival and heartbreak as they look to answer the question: are they really the last people on earth?
This book was very well written—I would expect no less from a professional editor—and held my interest from beginning to end. Ruby is a very interesting character, and although it took me a while to warm up to her, I ended up rooting for her in the end. The people who accompany her on her journey (her older brother, her boyfriend—for lack of a better word—her best friend, and the guy who’s got a crush on her best friend) are all wonderful characters who each bring something unique to the group. Although the story was, at times, difficult to read–as my poor heart can only take so much at a time–this post-apocalyptic novel did what it was supposed to: it kept me on the edge of my seat pretty much the entire way through.
The plot moved quickly, and there didn’t seem to be one unnecessary scene in the entire novel. Though I would have liked to get to know Ruby’s companions a little better, I got a general overview of who they were and what they stood for from the way they interacted with the main character. Overall I think all of the characters grew into better versions of themselves by the end of the story, most especially Ruby. The character development didn’t bog down the story with tons of insignificant details—like some stories tend to do—and everything progressed at a natural pace.
For those of you who like quick, suspenseful reads with twist endings, The Clearing will definitely be the book for you. I say “will” because Samantha is looking to have her amazing book professionally published right now, so, unfortunately, you won’t see it on the shelves of your local bookstore for a while. However, until then, you can visit Samantha’s blog, Scookie Reviews, and check out her writing advice and novel reviews.
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