Rating: 5 stars
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It has been six months since a meteor shower led to the zombie apocalypse, and partners Sawyer, Jesse, and Topher have finally found a place of at least temporary safety. After barely surviving out on the road, the trio have found their way to Salvation, a former military base turned refuge for the survivors. Along with their friend Chloe and her little brother Jaden, they have made a home for themselves. Jesse works in security, helping to protect the makeshift town from the zombies. Topher is working desperately on finding a cure for the plague. And Sawyer is a scavenger, going out into the zombie-infested world to try to find necessary supplies.
Their world is shaken up when one day Sawyer doesn’t return home from a scavenging mission. Topher and Jesse are determined to save him, but when find him they realize Sawyer may be the key to figuring out what is causing the zombies and how to stop it. But the men know that disclosing too much could put Sawyer in danger, something they refuse to do.
Jesse is determined to protect his partners at all costs. His spends tireless hours on defense, willing to do whatever it takes to keep his family safe. But the more time they spend at Salvation, the more Jesse begins to feel the pressure of always being the one who leads, the one who makes the hard choices. It isn’t helped when Sawyer learns what efforts are going on behind the scenes to find a cure, and how the ethical line seems to keep shifting. Jesse doesn’t want to burden Topher and Sawyer, but he also feels himself coming apart mentally from the stress and pressure.
Through it all, the zombies continue to threaten. No one is safe, even in Salvation. And as trouble comes, no matter what his reservations, Jesse will do whatever it takes to protect the men he loves.
I Am Alive is the second book in Evelyn Shepherd’s amazing Meteora trilogy. I went crazy for the first book in this series, I Am Here, and I am happy to say that I loved this one even more. It is thrilling and terrifying, romantic and loving. I was captivated from the start, and as the story heated up, I could not put it down, racing through the book breathlessly.
The first book follows the immediate aftermath of the meteor shower that suddenly unleashes a world of zombies. We see Sawyer and Jesse on the run with Chloe and Jaden, and later joined by Topher. No one knows what is happening, they are only doing whatever it takes to survive. At the end of that story they arrive in Salvation, and it appears they have found a refuge.
This book picks up after they have been there for a short time and have settled into their lives. Death is always around the corner and life is nothing like it once was, but at least there is some attempt at normalcy. All that gets shaken up, however, when Sawyer goes missing and faces death. Jesse realizes just how determined he is to protect his family, and that he will go to any lengths to keep them safe. It weighs on him, this responsibility. He never wanted to be a soldier or a hero; he just wanted a quiet life running his bookstore. But somehow he has become the protector, the one who takes care of the town and takes care of his partners, and he is not going to let them down.
While the first book is told from Sawyer’s POV, this one is told from Jesse’s. At first I was a little wary. I felt attached to Sawyer from being in his head and we get to know him better than the other two in the first book. So I wasn’t sure how I would feel about switching over to Jesse’s POV, but it truly works perfectly here. Sawyer was the right narrator for the first book. His terror and uncertainty was the perfect voice as the men drifted out to the unknown, figuring out what was happening along the way. But here the story shifts focus, at least temporarily, from the desperate survival mode to figuring out what do now. And Jesse is the perfect one to guide us along.
Jesse is the one thrust into this ethical quandary. He wants to be the protector, but he also realizes it is chipping away at him. He faces decisions he never wanted to make, and doesn’t have all the right answers. But people are looking to him to guide, to lead, to protect. And so he is the one who must decide. What would he be willing to do for the men he loves? Is it ok to risk someone else’s life if it means saving his family? Are there some people who are so evil they deserve to die, especially if it means protecting those that are good? Is it ok to experiment on the zombies in attempt to find a cure, even though they were once humans? As Jesse tells the others when they say he doesn’t have to take on all the burden himself:
“You’re right; I don’t have to shoulder it all. I do, because no one else will. Look me in the eyes and tell me you’ll make the sacrifice when the time comes,” I said. “I’m not talking about yourself. Throwing yourself into the fires, that’s the easy part. It’s when you have to reach your hands into the grit, dig deep into the blood and shit, and be willing to push everyone else into that pit of hell.”
And Jesse is right. As strong as the other men are, and as committed as they are to each other, he is the only one who can really do what it takes when it comes right down to it. But it weighs on him, and even though he knows that in the end there is nothing he would not do for those he loves, it still tears him apart.
This story explores these ideas so well through Jesse’s eyes. Not only do we see the pain he suffers, but we also see how the love of his partners is what keeps him off the brink. When we read romance, we always say we want the sex to further the plot, and this story is the perfect example of that. Jesse is just drowning in responsibility, in needing to always be the caretaker. And here we get several lovely scenes where we see him let go to Sawyer and Topher, to allow them to take him and care for him and let him just receive instead of always having to lead. It is really so beautifully done and shows us how important these men are to one another. Outside the bedroom we see it as well, as it becomes clear that what is holding Jesse together and keeping his humanity is truly the love of his partners and having them in his life.
While this book deals with lots of emotional issues, it is still an incredibly thrilling and terrifying story. This book is intense. The zombies are terrifying and revolting. No one is ever fully safe. People can die at any time. People DO die at any time. And not just nameless red shirts. Real characters that we know are at constant risk. The story is heart pounding and exhilarating and when the danger picked up, I read straight through, unable to put it down for a second.
I Am Alive doesn’t quite resolve at the end as much as find a place for some breathing room. As I said, this is the second of a trilogy so there is a lot more to come for these guys. This book does set up some major elements that I assume will play out in the final book, but does not have a full resolution at this point. You also are going to want to read I Am Here first so you can get the start of their relationship and the history behind the zombies. But trust me, this is no hardship. This trilogy is excellent.
So I really can’t say enough good things here. Zombies. Menage. Romance. Thrills. Terror. This is just fabulous stuff and I am so completely captivated by this trilogy and where it is going. I can hardly wait until the final book is released. You all need to be reading these! Highly recommended.