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The Other Life - Susanne Winnacker First of all I have to mention that this books is really creepy, actually far to spooky for me. While reading I was super-tense and felt as if I would have an heart-attack, any minute, repeatedly. So, now that we established that I’m a wimp let’s talk about the book.

Very often the cover of a book grabs my interest, here, in this case, it was the synopsis, Don’t get me wrong I still adore the cover but being stuck for over 3 years in a sealed bunker sounds horrible and I was curious what the author would make out of this interesting premise. To me, the portrait of a family on edge was very convincing. They run out of food, they haven’t heard from anybody in months and they don’t know what’s going on. There is a lot of tension going on, people snap at each other and even small incidents result in strong emotions.

Sherry, from whose point of view we experience the whole story, counts a lot. She especially counts days; days without soap; days without sun; days without her grandfather… It’s a bit OCD, but it actually mirrors very accurately her mental state. If you don’t do anything else then waiting and nothing new ever happens, you start doing strange things to occupy your mind.

The scary part of the book started when Sherry and her father leave the bunker after they run out of food. From this moment onwards I was on edge. I was expecting something to jump on them any second as it isn’t clear what happened in the 3 years in between. Only slowly more facts come up and you start to see the whole picture.

Joshua, the boy who saved Sherry from the mutants after her father vanished, is a fascinating character. He is very cynical, practical, helpful and has far more life and survival experience then a teenager should ever have. He takes Sherry under his wings and shows her the safe place, where a few surviving humans live. I was majorly surprised that Sherry wants to search for her father who was taken by the mutant monsters. It’s very admirable but, hello, these are brutal, cannibalistic and blood-curdling zombies. And she wants to go to their places and save her father? Joshua’s and Sherry’s quest is nerve-wrecking and intensely emotional. And the whole time I was asking myself: What happens when they find Sherry’s father? They are still in an apocalyptic and hostile environment!

There are a few more supportive characters at the safe place, who give more depth to the end-of -the-world-we-know scenario. I liked the “normal” human interactions, things that weren’t immediately connected to survival: like having dinner all together; Sherry’s more then friendly interest in Joshua and his reaction. After all they are still teenagers, and what do you want to life for, after all.

The book starts very slow-paced, but soon the speed increases and will draw you into the story. Though these characters are going through very different situations then we do in our normal life, it was very easy to relate to their sorrows, fears and joy. I also very much appreciated that there is closure to this book. Obviously this story isn’t over yet, but there is no massive cliff-hanger threatening your sleep. But be aware that there is a major twist at the end which caught me completely unprepared and may even make me read the next book. Although I will suffer again, I’m pretty sure. Overall this was a very convincing, enthralling and emotional debut and if you love dystopian and zombie literature, it’s the right book for you.

* ARC courtesy of the publisher *