Book Review: Wranglestone


Darren Charlton

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 6th February 2020
spoilers? no

Goodreads

Winter was the only season every Lake-Lander feared…

In a post-apocalyptic America, a community survives in a national park, surrounded by water that keeps the Dead at bay. But when winter comes, there’s nothing to stop them from crossing the ice.

Then homebody Peter puts the camp in danger by naively allowing a stranger to come ashore and he’s forced to leave the community of Wranglestone. Now he must help rancher Cooper, the boy he’s always watched from afar, herd the Dead from their shores before the lake freezes over.

But as love blossoms, a dark discovery reveals the sanctuary’s secret past. One that forces the pair to question everything they’ve ever known.

An action-packed and thought-provoking debut, for fans of Patrick Ness, Marcus Sedgwick, Dread Nation and The Walking Dead.

“But you’re coming?”

“I’ll be right behind you.”

“But you’re coming!”

“I ain’t never gonna leave your side.”

Galley provided by publisher

When I was about 13 or 14, I loved zombie stories. Zombie apocalypse books were my favourite sorts of dystopian novels, so when I heard about Wranglestone, I was particularly excited. And, for me, it definitely lived up to that excitement.

Wranglestone opens with Peter, doing chores outside, when someone shows up in a boat. Unfortunately for Peter, he is too trusting by half and ends up stabbed. When it turns out that this man’s wife is a zombie, Peter faces a reckoning. People in the community feel that he is too naive, and so he must join Cooper, a boy his age who helps herd the zombies from the lake shore, and learn about the world.

Hands down, the best part of this book is the relationship between Peter and Cooper. Yes, it develops quickly, but that’s sort of understandable if they’ve known each other for their whole lives anyway. And it’s also definitely the softest relationship I’ve read recently, where they actually communicate as well, so there aren’t any points where you want to scream because they’re being obtuse. They are that good.

But this book wouldn’t get by on their relationship alone (at least, I don’t think it would). Luckily, it’s also a book where a lot happens, so you’re fully engrossed in it the whole way through. I’m fairly sure I read the entire thing in one sitting (which, okay, isn’t that impressive given I read a lot of books in one sitting, but one sitting where I didn’t want to put it down, as opposed to making myself get through it). I had finished the book before I even knew it, and it’s definitely one that will leave you wanting to know what happens next.

If there was any sort of weakness in this book, though, it was that, on occasion, parts of the speech felt incongruous. Either like they weren’t entirely replying to the previous statement, or that they didn’t feel like they fit quite with what was happening in the scene. It didn’t occur that often, but I noticed it often enough to clock it.

Overall, though, this is a solid zombie novel, and definitely a book and an author I will be coming back to.

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