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Thicker Than Blood, by Madeline Sheehan and Claire C. Riley

Thicker Than Blood______________________________________________

A true friendship never dies.

Leisel and Evelyn lost everything. Husbands. Families. Friends. Lives that made sense. All they had left was each other, and a friendship that could withstand anything…

Even an apocalypse.

Until one fateful night, the marginal safety they’d come to rely on comes to a vicious and brutal end. With the help of Alex & Jami, both unlikely allies, Leisel and Evelyn are able to escape their shattered sanctuary only to find themselves face-to-face with a much altered, much crueler life where they have to find the way—and the will—to stay alive in a world they no longer recognize.

Traveling across a broken and infection-ridden country; the road-weary group are pitted against endless violence, improbable circumstances, and the ultimate loss.
Everything comes at a price—especially safety, the cost of which could very well strip them of the one thing they’ve tried so hard to cling to: their humanity.

Yet along with all the trials they’re forced to endure, there’s also hope in the form of love. Having loved Leisel from afar, Alex attempts to put the pieces of her fractured heart back together.

But in such a savage world, is there room for love?

In a place of nightmares-made-reality, where the living should be feared far more than the dead, an unbreakable friendship and a love amongst all odds can mean the difference between life and death.

There are friends…

And then there are Leisel and Evelyn. ______________________________________________

Okay, so, if I had to define this book in a word, I’d say intense. Like reeeeeeeally intense!

I really enjoyed it though. Of course, it’s not really what you’d call a feel good novel, what with all the people dying or killing each other or trying to rape women. But I still enjoyed reading this book. I was really engaged in it from the start.

“But when it did, when the first American fell to his knees, the government was ill prepared for the fallout and the sickness spread like wildfire.”

I really enjoyed the prologue that set the mood and the atmosphere of the whole book. I thought the way the epidemic and the end of the world as we know it was really well described and I almost felt like a documentary or a historic novel. And then comes chapter one. We get pretty quickly into the thick of the matter since the book opens when Leisel just killed the man she was forced to marry. 

It took me more time than usual to read this book (10 days to be exact), but it was so dense I felt like I had just ran for an hour every time I picked it up. But mostly, it was because some of the things that happen in the story are so awful and sometimes disturbing that I had a hard time keeping on reading. Sometimes, I was afraid to read the next line, especially when the scene depicted was a difficult and sexual one.

“We should have learned by now that nothing was ever easy in this world. Yet, like children, we remained forever hopeful, optimistic that just once something would go right for us.”

At some point, I started wondering if I wasn’t watching a Game of Thrones episode because every time I started trusting or liking someone, they ended up dead. I knew it was dumb of me to hope, but I couldn’t help myself and always ended up wanting to slap my book around for hurting the characters again and again when they had already gone through so much.

“To always having someone to rely on, a person in your corner to fight for you no matter the reason, no matter the cost. To having more than a friend, more than a sister, but a soul mate. To the hope they give us, the strength they provide us, and the unconditional love they empower us with. To best friends.”

I really enjoyed Evelyn and Leisel’s relationship and how strong it was. They really cared for each other and were looking out for each other. What really moved me was Evelyn’s attitude when Leisel and Alex started falling for each other. It could have been really easy for Evelyn to feel left out and resentful toward Leisel for finding happiness and comfort in someone else. But even if sometimes she did feel alone, she was always happy for Leisel and I really enjoyed that because it surprised me.

“Where was the humanity? Dead, I thought bitterly. Dead, like everything else.”

I really enjoyed the change in Leisel’s personality and how she grew as a character and a person. She’s really the character you expect the less from and who ends up making the biggest change while still being the one that stays true to herself. It’s so easy in their situation to forget what is right and what is wrong and to let the lines blur. Leisel always stayed “good”, at least considering the world she has to live in while getting stronger.

“It had been worth it to learn there was someone else in the world, other than just Evelyn and me who hadn’t succumbed to the corruption and the wickedness everyone else had seemed to.”

I really enjoyed the romance in the book too. It was really what helped make the book lighter with the good and tender moments that aloud Evelyn and Leisel’s friendship. The romance wasn’t overwhelmingly present in the book, but the amount there was of it gave the book a little something more.

“Everything good left in this world was going to be eventually snuffed out altogether, one by one, and not by the infected but at the hands of the selfish, greedy people who’d taken control, who’d turned a worldwide devastation into their own personal playground.”

Toward the end though I was really concerned with how things were getting and where the story was going. I knew when I started the book that there wouldn’t be a happy ending per se, but I was still concerned. Especially since I caved and started reading reviews to get an idea of what was to come. Let’s just say that it didn’t help all that much. I knew bad things were coming, I could feel it even before I took a look at the reviews, but I really didn’t want the book to end on something bad. Someone wrote in their review that the ending was bittersweet and that some would be find comfort with this ending, while others may not. Personally, I liked the ending. It was bittersweet indeed and left me not knowing if I wanted to smile or cry, but I liked it. I liked what happens to Leisel and the ray of hope she gets after so much heartache and I really liked the Evelyn was finally at peace. They both got a “happy ending” but,and I’m not going to say why I’m saying this because it would involve spoilers, it was still bittersweet.

“Whatever happens Lei, it was worth it.”

So all in all, I’d say that you should give this book a try if you think it is a story that could be for you. I know I usually enjoy zombie themed books with a little steam in it and I did enjoy this one too even though it was darker than the ones I have read in the genre before. But it is important to say that this book touches a lot of serious and heavy topics. The place and role of women in this world in truly awful and it makes for really awful scenes and situations sometimes. This book is definitely not for the weak of heart and you will most likely be shocked by the event taking place in the novel. But if you feel up for it, you should definitely give it a try.

“The infection ran so much deeper than just turning people into mindless cannibals. It destroyed people’s souls.”

This book was the first one in a series of standalones. The next book in the serie, Beneath Blood And Bone, is about one of the truly awful characters we met in this book, Eagle and a new character, Autumn. And I can’t wait to see how big bad E and savage Autumn will work out.

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