Audiobook Review: White Horse by Alex Adams

27 04 2012

White Horse by Alex Adams

Read by Emily Durante

Blackstone Audio

Length: 10 Hrs 15 Min

Genre: Post Apocalyptic Fiction

Quick Thoughts: White Horse is one of the more unique and refreshing apocalyptic tales I have read in a while. Alex Adams offers something for everyone, romance, mystery, politics, science, devastation and hope, creating a rare book that can easily appeal to fans of both Literary and genre fiction.

Grade: A-

Some say the apocalypse will come with a bang, others say this it will be a whimper, yet, always the contrarian, I sort of believe it will be both. It easy to look at one large event that could bring about the end of the world. Whether it is a super-plague like in The Stand, or a giant comet like in Lucifer’s Hammer, or nuclear war, the big event will come to end our time as the earth’s dominant species. I think it would be easier for us that way. We could point the finger and say, "It wasn’t my fault, it was that big old comet." Yet, recently there has been a push in Post Apocalyptic fiction to show the gradual breakdown of society through a series of events. In Wil McIntosh’s Soft Apocalypse, everything contributes from economic issues, to scientists playing god, that it would be impossible to point to one cause. This becomes more problematic for human apologists, because of these many causes it’s easy to find one that we may have contributed to. Maybe if we choose that more fuel efficient car, or didn’t take out that risky loan, then things wouldn’t have gotten as bad as it did as quickly. In White Horse, Alex Adams combines these two nightmarish scenarios to create a unique, yet troubling potential apocalypse. In the world Adams creates, a combination of scientific manipulation of the weather, and war over the technology begins to cause a breakdown in society, but it’s a strange plague that alters the genetic structure of our DNA which gives us the knockout punch. It is the bang and the whimper that gets us.

White Horse tells the story of Zoe Marshall, a former cleaner at a pharmaceutical company who lives through the devastating virus called White Horse which kills off roughly 90% of the population, and transforms some of the survivors into genetic freaks. The story alternates between before the virus where Zoe finds a mysterious jar in her condo, to after the virus where she’s traveling through a bleak, devastated Europe searching for the father of her unborn child. I have heard many people compare White Horse to Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Road. White Horse shares many elements with The Road, the darkly beautiful landscapes, the character’s journey both physically and introspectively. Yet, it was the aspects of the novel that differentiated it from The Road that made it stand out for me. Adams fills her novel with specific details of the apocalypse that bring the world into greater light. Her detailed description of the progression of the White Horse Plague, as well as the developing tension between The United States and China and their eventual war over weather technology grounded her tale in a way that just resonated with plausibility. Her vision of the changing world, even before the devastation of the White Horse plague scared me. Adams builds her story in layers, with Zoë’s personal struggles, her relationships both familial and romantic, the escalation of plague, the genetic changes of some of the survivors, and her travels across Europe with a deranged character known as the Swiss. All these layers interact and played with each other building a fascinating narrative scope and coming together in the end like a grand puzzle. There were times in the tale, where I wasn’t so much as lost, but unsure of the direction the tale was going, yet Adams brings it together so well that the tales payoff was even better than I expected. White Horse is being touted as the first in a trilogy, yet this book has no problem standing on its own. White Horse is one of the more unique and refreshing apocalyptic tales I have read in a while. Alex Adams offers something for everyone, romance, mystery, politics, science, devastation and hope, creating a rare book that can easily appeal to fans of both Literary and genre fiction.

It is quite hard for me to break down Emily Durante’s performance as narrator of White Horse. I was so immersed in this tale, that I can’t truly remember any specific nuance to her reading. I think this actually says a lot about her performance. She was able to so aptly match the tone of the novel that her performance fell away, just leaving me with the author’s words. Her characterizations were well done. I’m not sure how authentic her accents were, particularly with “The Swiss” yet the accent and gruffness she gave that character fit his personality if not his ethnicity. I enjoyed the soft exotic tones she gave to some of the other character that Zoe meets along the way. It’s rare that I get as immersed into an audiobook as I did with White Horse, and that is truly a credit to both the author and the performance of the narrator.

Note: Thanks to Blackstone Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

This review is part of my Welcome to the Apocalypse weekly feature.



3 responses

28 04 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

I adored this in print, but I almost wish I’d listened to the audio, since Durante matched the book so well. Definitely a winner.

1 06 2012

I just picked this up to read at the library – wish i had time to listen to it but i don’t right now

6 06 2012

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