Whispers in the Dark

whispersBlurb: She’s a preschool teacher. He’s kind of a zombie. It would never work… 

Karen teaches post-apocalypse preschool, safe inside city walls. She never intended to get caught outside.

Leo is technically alive, but perpetually zoned out: Mindless. He can see emotions as colors now, though, so at least there’s that. Like the other Mindless, he feeds on the emotional energy of humans. Then he meets Karen – her unique energy jolts him partly awake, and he’s hooked. He protects her but when she’s rescued, he lands in a cage.

Karen wants to go home, but until then, she also wants to spy on her sketchy host, which brings her into contact with Leo. He’s recovering, and surprisingly sweet, and he’ll protect her in any way he can. She returns the favor, but this alliance can’t last; she’s leaving, and he’ll be killed for science.

Leo doesn’t expect her to even talk to him, much less help him. But that emotion she has when she looks at him? He doesn’t know what to call it, but it’s not fear.

Karen can go back to her life – if she abandons Leo. She can’t stay with him, she can’t take him home… but without her, he’s dead.

He saved her. Can she save him?

I haven’t read or seen Warm Bodies but Whispers In The Dark by Pam Jernigan is how I imagine it would be like – if the zombies weren’t quite zombies and the worldview were a little more Christian.

The story takes place post-zombie-apocalypse. The world has been overrun by Mindless – people infected by an unknown source who become emotionless, speechless, mindless automatons that kill anything that crosses their paths.  The uninfected live in small cities, barricaded away from the Mindless and attempting to salvage what they can of life in a cage and a shattered global infrastructure.

This is the world Karen lives in and has known for half her life. She and her peers remember life from before and they aren’t quite ready to give up trying to find a cure. So they venture outside and she ends up injured and given up for dead.

Only for some reason the first Mindless that finds her doesn’t kill her. He protects her – and talks to her – instead. But before she has a chance to figure out what’s going on, she gets rescued and taken to an unauthorized, militant research camp. Along with the group of Mindless she was with – including Leo. There she learns more about the Mindless than she’d ever expected – and about the evil lengths that some people will go to.

I was a little nervous going into this book for two reasons. The first – the not-quite-zombies premise. Well, thankfully, that part wasn’t bad at all – yes, a few people are killed by the Mindless but it’s always off-screen and undetailed. And they definitely aren’t being eaten so there’s none of that “braaaiiinnss” grossness. The second reason was the “sketchy host”/research camp bit. Despite the fact I enjoyed the Poisoner’s handbook previously, I really don’t like a lot of detail, or even the idea of, morgue-like laboratories and the like. But again, this was handled very well – no details, nothing gruesome – just a hint to make you nervous but nothing to make you squeamish. Perfectly done there.

The book is primarily a romance so I was very curious to see how that was going to be handled – and it was pretty well done again. Not perfect – there were several little things that I avoided looking at too closely (like – did he smell or do Mindless not have BO? Cause I doubt they do much bathing…).  But Leo was sweet and Karen was cool and I enjoyed their dynamic together.

I also loved the idea that Leo and the other Mindless see and feed off emotions. You know how hanging out with your friends can help you recharge when you’ve had a bad day? Well they literally absorb the feelings of those around them. It was a cool idea and it helped me accept the reasons behind Leo slowly becoming not-so-mindless anymore. God’s presence throughout everything was lightly woven in.

All in all, this was 100% my kind of “zombie” book and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for romance with a speculative twist!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy by the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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