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    Competently-written story

    ‘Past this Point’ is a post-apocalyptic novel by American-based author, Nicole Mabry. At the time of reviewing, this scenario is extremely topical with coronavirus still proving difficult to contain. The story is told in the first person and the past tense. We meet our main character, Karis, just before she becomes holed up in her apartment with only her dog for company, due to a killer-virus sweeping the east coast. Inevitably Karis, has problems with loneliness and struggles at times with separating reality from fantasy. She has a lot of time for soul-searching and re-evaluation of her mind-set. After a while, Karis is given foils in the form of two sisters, Julia and Emma, in a neighbouring apartment block, both of whom seem to be extremely mature for their age. This aspect of the story is very moving and evocative. By now, the infrastructure of New York is breaking down and Karis soon experiences the inevitable dangers that follow on from this. In the second half of the story, Karis has Ollie for companionship, causing the focus to shift from survival to attraction. Nicole Mabry has given herself an unnecessary complication by deciding that Ollie is English. He’s from London and has been in New York for a few weeks; during that time, he seems to have embraced the American English language without difficulty, as did his wealthy English parents when contacted by phone. However, an international audience most probably won’t notice. The structure of the plot is straightforward without twists or misdirection and many readers will enjoy its simplicity. It’s extremely difficult to carry a whole story with such a narrow focus without it becoming introspective and repetitive. By and large the author has coped well with her remit. We have a degree of foreshadowing with varying levels of suspense. The scene-setting is excellent and the cover helps in this regard. I confess to feeling a little irritated with the amount of good fortune Karis and Ollie enjoy; finding petrol readily available and working freezers full of food. I wondered why people would have turned feral when there were still plentiful supplies around. The physicians Karis and Ollie encounter are knowledgeable in their understanding of the makeup of the virus. If the frontline clinicians are so efficient, why do they have difficulty in interpreting Karis’ blood results? Any workup on a patient with Karis’ profile would include the obvious cause for the anomaly found. By this point I was definitely overthinking it. The ending was perhaps rather twee but for those who enjoy romance, it will be a satisfying conclusion to a competently-written story. I quite liked aspects of the book and objectively, award four stars.
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    Finding one’s self in an unimaginable time

    Karis found herself in an unimaginable time. All of her friends and co-workers have perished from the strange “Flu” that is spreading across the states. She has barricaded herself in her apartment with her dog Zeke. She is afraid to go outside, she begins to here strange noises and to imagine things. She goes over her life and her relationships and wonders what went wrong and why she is still alone at 38. Her only contact is over the rooftops and through windows talking to two young girls taking care of their sick mother in another apartment building. Then the mother dies from the flu and one by one the girls die from the flu. Karis is now alone with only a phone call to her mother and her dog Zeke. Then the lights go off, the water is turned off and there is no heat and nowhere to get food or supplies. The only way out is to find a car that works and escape to the west which is still an unaffected zone. Will she make it out alive? Will she perish in New York in her apartment? The answers are in the book. Pick up a copy today, you will enjoy it. I recommend this book. Thanks to Nicole Mabry, Red Adept Publishing, LLC, and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of the book.

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