Author: Jeyn Roberts
Rating: 4 Stars-Dark Inside 5 stars-Rage Within
Review Contains Spoilers
The world can end anytime. For four teenagers, the beginning of the end starts sooner than anyone would anticipate. Earthquakes rip apart the Pacific Northwest. Bombings and mass murder terrorize the rest of the country as people become infected with murderous rage.
Each character is separated from their loved ones and forced to do unthinkable things to merely survive an extra night. Mason struggles with his dark side after losing everyone he knows on the initial day of the attacks. Michael is constantly on the run and makes a decision he'll regret forever. Aries (female character, just to clarify), loses her best friend and meets Daniel, who may or may not have dark secrets of his own. Clementine is on a journey to Seattle to find her long lost brother after her entire town is massacred. Plus a mysterious character "Nothing" shows readers how a normal person became infected and lost their soul.
This novel does not hold back from violence or gore. People go nuts and kill their own families. "Nothing" continually stresses human civilization became too greedy and had to be reset. The "crazies" and non-infected humans fight each other for control and survival.
All four characters don't meet until the very end which I liked. Readers had time to see each character's backstory and plot fleshed out individually. Mason, Michael, Aries and Clementine are destined to meet in Vancouver B.C. and help each other in a lethal battle in a Vancouver department store and we see exactly that go down, and so much more.
In Rage Within the protagonists are holed up in a safe house and in contact with other survivors. A bunch of new characters outside of the four protagonists were introduced in the first book. Usually an array of new characters can get confusing or annoying to me as a reader but the characters are well written and I grew attached to them.
In the second book the infected are purging Vancouver by rounding up normal people and putting them in a camp. The infected are also more organized and smart--and it's hinted they can still feel remorse and other things from their past life. Readers are also teased by the level of infection--how easily one can become infected and how they might be able to hide it. Mason continues to deal with some kind of darkness growing inside of him. Aries is one of the leaders and witnesses a chain of events that'll test her sanity. Michael's past haunts him in subtle ways. Clementine continues to look for her brother.
Romance also blooms: we see a growing love triangle between Mason/Daniel/Aries (I am Team Mason. Probably one of the few) and something blooms between Michael and Clementine (I dig it).
"Nothing" also becomes more of a protagonist. Instead of just being a narrator readers receive a sort of a backstory. To be honest, I wasn't sold on "Nothing" in the first book. While those chapters gave great narrative I wondered what exact role "Nothing" would play and turns out I may have been a absentminded reader. Other readers have theories that "Nothing" is one of the main characters. Mason and Daniel are popular guesses. My bet is actually Aries. All of the characters face horrible situations and lose friends. However, Mason and Daniel are too obvious for me. Enough events in Rage Inside involving Aries make me seriously think she may be "Nothing". The darkness can get a hold of everyone--the question is who is telling the story and is humanity restored when they are telling it?
(We'll have to wait until book three to find out. I'm impatiently waiting.)