White Horse

Alex Adams. Atria/Emily Bestler, $19.99 (292p) ISBN 978-1-4516-4299-5
Adams's debut, the first of a trilogy, presents a dystopian future in which a fatal disease—the titular "White Horse—" has been unleashed on humanity. The novel opens with 30-year-old Zoe passing through "what used to be Italy" on her way to Greece. The story flips between "Date: Then" and "Date: Now" at head-spinning speed. Amid the whir of flashbacks and flashforwards, we learn that prior to the outbreak, Zoe, whose husband died in a car accident, went to work as a janitor at Pope Pharmaceuticals in an effort to assuage her grief. While employed at Pope, she receives a mysterious sealed jar, which may have something to do with the deadly epidemic. Rather than taking the jar to the police, she takes herself to therapist Nick Rose, with whom she longs to violate her doctor-patient relationship. Now, Zoe is heading to Greece in search of Nick, who has disappeared. Along the way, she collects an abused blind girl named Lisa, a threatening Swiss man, and a donkey. Early on, Zoe manages the rescue of Lisa from her abusers in a couple of scenes that are written with gut-wrenching verve, but as the corpses pile up, they overwhelm the novel. The jumps between "Now" and "Then" are so frequent that it's difficult to get involved in either narrative, and when the two threads converge and the puzzle pieces are all fitted together, the resulting picture strains credibility. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
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