Thursday, 16 July 2015


Title: Under Ground
Author: S. L. Grey
Genre: Adult Literature
Release Date: 16th July 2015

BLURB from Netgalley
THEY'RE TRAPPED FIFTY FEET DOWN . . . AND SOMEONE WANTS THEM SIX FEET UNDER The Sanctum is a luxurious, self-sustaining survival condominium situated underground in rural Maine. It's a plush bolt-hole for the rich and paranoid - a place where they can wait out the apocalypse in style. When a devastating super-flu virus hits the States, several families race to reach The Sanctum. All have their own motivations for entering. All are hiding secrets. But when the door locks and someone dies, they realize the greatest threat to their survival may not be above ground - it may already be inside.


The cover of Under Ground caught my eye on Netgalley and upon reading the blurb, that piqued my interest even more. Netgalley places this book into the "Adult Literature" category though when I read the blurb it made me think this book falls into the post-apocalyptic genre. Will I still think the same after reading it? 

I requested this title from Netgalley and received a free e-copy in exchange for my honest review. The cover shows elevator buttons with the down arrow glowing red. I like the byline of "Fear Runs Deep" as it fits quite a lot of the characters within the book.
The area around the site of Sanctum is in the middle of fields and forests, in an isolated area of Maine. From the outside and above ground Sanctum has a high chain link fence topped with barbed wire. It is surrounded by two trenches that have to be crossed via cattle grates. Once over the trenches all that is actually visible above ground is an entrance hatch. The entrance hatch looks rather like a large safe door. There is also a wind turbine above ground which powers Sanctum.  The actual living area of Sanctum is set 50 feet underground and is a luxury hide out from the apocalypse. Just one of the luxury features of the Sanctum is high tech moving picture screens in the place of windows, these "windows" change as the day goes on to give the illusion of day and night. There is also a choice of different "views". Sanctum has been marketed to high earning professionals and preppers alike. The book is about the people that bought into the idea of this haven, then made their way to it, when a virus made it look like the world was going to be coming to an end. The man in charge of this Under Ground "safe haven" is Greg Fuller, and his grand plans for the Sanctum haven't been entirely met, there's lots of unfinished jobs to be done, like a whole apartment and the medical suite. The one thing left undone that causes the most discomfort to the Sanctum residents is the elevators are not fully operational, which means using the staircases. That's sort of the main reason why Will Boucher ends up being caught up in the whole situation that ensues. Will is desperate for the money he will earn from helping out at the Sanctuary, as his wife Lana is terminally ill and they have large medical bills to pay.
So I'll introduce you to the inhabitants of the Sanctum that have paid a lot of money to have a place, an apartment within it.
Within the first group, one of the inhabitants didn't even know Sanctum existed. The "Gill group" consists of Tyson Gill, his four year old daughter Sarita and the Au-pair Cait. Tyson is in the process for taking Cait to the airport for her to return to her home in Africa. Then as soon as he realises that there is a potential apocalyptic viral outbreak her drives to Sanctum, only stopping on the way only for car fuel, and some quickly purchased clothing for Sarita. Cait will be taking the place of Tyson recently passed wife Rani.
The family that is very central to the whole book are the Guthries. They are living in one of the smaller units within Sanctum and their family consists of father Cam, mother Bonnie, and the teenage twins Brett and Gina. The Guthries are heavily into being preppers, so when things become difficult in Sanctum they naturally want to be in charge and have plenty to say on what should and needs to be done. Brett is the "mini" version of his father all camouflage, guns and prepping. Gina has to be the "dutiful" daughter, compliant and doing as she is ordered, very much "seen and not heard". 
The unlikely couple of the highly anxious James Maddox and his highly strung wife who "wears the trousers in the relationship" Vicki also have an apartment in Sanctum. Vicki insists on her dog Claudette being allowed into Sanctum. The dog is definitely Vicki's "baby" and eats gourmet dog food and actually drinks bottled Evian water! which becomes a problem in the latter half of the book. You come to the conclusion within a short time that Vicki values Claudette more than her husband James. There's also a strange tension between the Maddoxes and Tyson Gill.
Another family in Sanctum is the Park family, father Yoo-jin (or Eugene as his more "english" nickname), his wife Stella (a dentist) and their teenaged, games and internet obsessed Jae-Lin (Jae). There is an instant conflict towards this family from the Guthries, who don't like foreigners etc causing some quite racial nastiness. It's quite ironic as Gina Guthrie immediately crushes on Jae!
Finally the last family is the Dannhauser's arrive and cause a stir as the elderly Caroline appears to be ill. She arrives with her husband "techie" Leo and daughter who cares for her Trudi, a 42 yr old ex-ballerina. The Guthrie's demand that the Dannhauser's must be quarantined until they can be sure Caroline does not have a contagious disease or the dreaded virus that is going to cause the apocalypse!
So what happens with all these families? Sarita Gill goes wandering in the night to find a lost toy and discovers the dead body of Greg Fuller, with small bloody footprints leading away from the body! Will Boucher becomes the elected leader of the disgruntled group. The residents of Sanctum are already disappointed in their so called 5 star luxury safe haven, that doesn't have a medical centre or a medical professional. The nearest thing to a Doctor in Sanctum is Stella Parks who is a dentist.  Will sort of gets the "leader" position as no one wants the Guthrie's to be in charge of anything.. . . Everyone is nervous as to whether Greg's death was an accident or murder. . . . Things become worse when Will tries to input a security code and the system goes into lockdown. When the residents realise they can no longer open the outer hatch of Sanctum as the code has literally died with Greg! Naturally there is panic, and lots of other things happening both to the individual families and the group as a whole. There are more deaths. . . but I'm not going to say who of how they die!
So what else can I share without giving too much away? There's the rather cold hearted and gory solution the Guthrie's come up with to unlock the lockdowned room the Dannhausers are quarantined in. Another horrifying incident is someone attempts to rape Cait (Tyson Gill's Au pair). Then there's the sweeter, fairly innocent boyfriend/girlfriend thing going on between Jae and Gina. Leo Dannhauser is somewhat of a mystery too. . . .he is so quiet about his past, even with his own daughter. Leo almost seems haunted. . .
Don't think the book is all gore and darkness, there are some lighter, comedic sections too. I enjoyed reading from James' point of view as he is on the journey to Sanctum. He begins to ponder if his wife's precious pampered dog Claudette will be allowed into Sanctum. I mean is it justifiable that a dog should be permitted a space in Sanctum that could potentially be given to human for their survival. Then James muses that he could eat the gourmet dog food if food supplies run low. He actually chuckles to himself that if supplies become really low he could even eat the dog! It's quite ironic how James goes into Sanctum really disliking the dog but towards the end of the book ends up clinging to the dog for a reason to continue to live and survive.
One thing I did dislike about the book (which may change when the actual book is released) was the fact that at the beginning of the book there is a list of the floors and their layout and whose rooms are where within Sanctum. This placement of the list in my opinion reveals too much, even revealing characters we have yet to meet, and revealing something inadvertently about Will Boucher. I think it is a useful list but, I would have preferred for the list to be placed in the book after the initial introduction of all the characters. 
I found the way Jae offers to read to Caroline when she is ill and bedridden very endearing. It shows you how he has been brought up to respect his elders and use his manners and be polite too. I loved the interaction between the different characters, and their personalities. Throughout this book you go from the residents thinking Sanctum is some kind of vacation destination, to it becoming increasingly restrictive until the point it feels like a prison, or a tomb that they all may end up dying in.
Help does eventually arrive thanks to the residents pooling their resources and skills, but has the help arrived in time? Who will be left to rescue?
So did I enjoy the book? Yes, I would normally say I do not read horror at all but this book was a brilliant mix of lots of post apocalyptic, horror and what I can only describe as "people watching". Would I recommend the book? Yes, I'd highly recommend this book. It is a very thought provoking read. There are many situations in the book where you ponder how you would have reacted if you had been presented with the same dilemmas as the characters within the book. Would I want to read another book if this is a series? To be honest, the ending to this book suggested to me that it is a standalone read. Would I want to read more if there were to be another book containing some or all of the characters in this book? Yes specifically two of the surviving characters. I can't say who as that would itself be a major spoiler but I'm sure you will guess who I mean when you read the book for yourselves. Would I want to read other books by this author? Wow yes please! I enjoyed how the book made me think and try to solve the deaths, as well as think What if there ever was such an epidemic. . .

Wow what an ending! I did not expect that at all! The person responsible for the deaths in Sanctum turned out to be one of the last people I would have expected it to be. 
Then the person responsible tells us the reader the truth about what really happened and how it all happened in The Sanctum in such a cold and calm way. It casts quite a sinister twist on the whole book, sort of bordering on horror. I really think this book would make a fantastic film or TV show. It would be along the lines of the Tale Of The Unexpected Series by Roald Dahl that I watched many years ago with my grandparents. The way the characters minds worked and the insider view that the reader gets at the individual character's POV. The way we got to delve into the plot made reading this book like watching an episode of Criminal Minds. I think I had gone through so many different scenario's to explain the events and deaths in the Sanctum. This book kept me on the edge of my seat, to the very end.

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