Wednesday 8 November 2023



Title: Ruined World
Surviving The End
Grace Hamilton
Relay Publishing
Release Date:
8th November 2023

BLURB from Goodreads
Trust is the first casualty of war… Disaster has struck the McDonald family. Everything they’ve built since the fall of civilization has been destroyed by a devastating fire. They’ve lost their community, supplies, and even loved ones. The death of Mike and James hits hardest of all. The other survivors are scattered. There’s nothing left. All that remains is the indomitable will to survive. Jodi is lucky enough to have several family members survive the fire as they take to the road to find their new home. In this harsh new world, other survivors are often the greatest threat and trust must be earned. But the dangers of traveling America after the EMP force their hand. The missionaries of Helios seem to have good intentions and offer the weary group safe refuge in their enclave. But Jodi’s unease grows as they move farther from the burned village, and the missionaries reveal their zealous ideology. Soon, Jodi will discover just how far the missionaries will go to control their new guests. And by that time, it may be too late to escape ….

Goodreads Link

I have loved all the covers for this book series, they fit the individual books well, with each new cover having an image representing a scene from within the book very well. The covers also all tie well together and I bet they look amazing on a bookstore/library shelf!

After the way Burned World ended, I couldn’t wait to read more about these characters I had grown to love would cope being separated from family members. Would this harsh world divide and conquer the remaining survivors or would they pick themselves up, literally dust themselves down and get on with this latest horrific set back. Its not just the material losses, it’s the betrayal surrounding James’ death, and how the fire started that are particularly hard to swallow. Great characters have met sad ends in this series with James murdered and hi killer still at large. Then there is Mike who helps to save his mother and niece before succumbing to the water himself and drowning. I guess you could say he was murdered just as much as James, was as if the fire hadn’t been started the chain of events that led to his drowning would not have occurred. It is hitting Beth particularly hard that she has not been able to give her family members what she calls a decent burial. James was a partner to Beth whom she loved dearly and Mike, her son who she had thought she was going to lose when he got his cancer diagnosis, then he fought hard and survived, only to drown helping her and Kaylee.

The family starts of the book split into three parts, Beth, Amelia & Kaylee, Shane & guide dog Ruby and finally Jodi, Owen, Katie, Violet, Corbin and Greyson. It seems like the family are heading in all different directions that are leading them further apart instead of reuniting them. I think initially it is Shane that has it worst as he is totally on his own until one particularly bright moment amidst all the devastation is when Ruby, Violet’s guide dog finds Violet’s father Shane. Ruby is the reason to continue and fight his burns injury pains and the reminder of his family being out there somewhere that Shane needs. When Shane loses consciousness, it is Ruby who stays with him, guards him, awakens him and helps to battle on. Its not overly long until Shane & Ruby are found by family matriarch Beth, her granddaughter in law Amelia and her granddaughter Kaylee. Of course, they are all happy to be reunited, and it seems to have a really good effect of Kaylee being reunited with one of her parents. It soon becomes apparent that the adults in the group all have quite different ideas of what they should be doing, from staying put by the lake hoping the rest of the family will turn up soon, to actively searching for the other family members. However, Beth makes one thing known she needs to bury James, as well as retrieve Mike’s body and bury him too, she will not rest until this is done.

Jodi, Owen, little Katie, Violet, and Corbin with their now prisoner Greyson are heading towards the area the religious sect have their settlement. They soon come across two citizens of Helios, the religious order they were making their way to for help. They need food, shelter and medical attention which they are more than willing to work for. Then it is their plan to return back into the now burnt landscape and wilderness to search for their missing family members. They are all clear on their plan but it doesn’t help Jodi feel more and more uneasy the further away from Hickory Falls they get and once they arrive in Helios that uneasiness only increases.

Helios is a rather strange cult like community, they are ruled by a male leader called Amun Ra whose immediate helpers are named Luminance Flare, Dash etc. It is clear this is a male ruled faction of survivors. Everyone is expected to work, in return they receive food, shelter and any medical help they need. The newcomers soon fit into their new schedule grateful to be taken in and given help. At the start of every day Katie is whisked away to the nursery where she is locked in with those that work there until the end of work bell is sounded when she can be collected to go back to her own family. The thing that really irks Jodi is the work division, the whole “men’s work” and “women’s work”. When there’s an issue with access and Jodi suggests a bridge design, she has built before and knows will work she is ignored, yet when she sends Owen with the same suggestion he is treat like some sort of saviour/hero!! Jodi’s discomfort of this women obey kind of living soon puts a target on her back and has her labelled a trouble maker. Jodi and her family discuss ways of making an exit from Helios.

On another occasion Jodi speaks up warning the elders of the Helio community that Greyson is not trustworthy, she is partially ignored. To make amends for his mother speaking out of turn, Owen volunteers to be with Greyson on the work detail. Once away from the others and in the small group of 4, Greyson once again shows his true evil and attacks first the two young men from Helios and kills them then attacks and leaves Owen for dead. Owen and the two Helio men are found and returned to Helios. Amun Ra says a trial will be held. In a strange turn of events despite Jodi warning that Greyson wasn’t to be trusted, Amun Ra blames the death of his two men on Owen and sentences him to “face the sun”. He will be locked in a cage on top of the temple for 4 days and nights.

In a strange twist the fact that Violet is partially sighted makes the people of Helios think she is gifted as she can only see shades of light/dark meaning she sees the shades of light in people. She is soon and a type of sun Princess. Violet has been feeling useless so when offered all this extra attention she naturally begins to enjoy it, and tries to use it to help have her brother Owen releases from his cage in the sun.

This book is really action packed with each set of survivors facing different dangers whilst trying to decide the best way forward to find their missing family members. The two groups end up finding each other again just at a pivotal time. It turns out Greyson has had a hand in bringing the family back together. It’s certainly touch and go at certain points in the book as to if the family in Helios will ever escape Helios, or will the rest of the family be lured in too.

Theres a lot of guilt going round in this book too. The guilt of having to use fire to escape Helios, the guilt of bringing Greyson to an unsuspecting community, Owens guilt at missing the signs Greyson was going to double cross him and the work team killing the two Helios men. Theres also a theme of betrayal, Greyson leading both sets of the separate groups of family members to Helios whilst not giving them the full story of what they are walking into. The inklings of betrayal of Violet as she enjoys the attention and feeling of importance that the people of Helios give her when her family seem to disregard her. Then the feelings of betrayal the reunited family feel at how they had to use fire to escape Helios and its residents when some of them had been nice to them. However, there is also the betrayal of those in charge in Helios as they use tricks and words twisting to get the family to bend to their will. Corbin and Owen betrayed by a Helios resident that they thought could see their point of view and help them leave Helios peacefully. There was also loss in this book, James and Mike had to be buried, another integral family character dies and their loss is devastating, all the more so as its at a point in the book when you think things have started to look better for the family. Then there’s Greyson, the bad guy, the fire starter, the one that murdered James, who seemed drawn like a magnet to Corbin. Did Greyson just need the love and care of a good family coming from a poor life situation like Corbin? Or was he always going to be a lost cause? Though things don’t look good for him towards the end of this book, stranger things of happened and he has a habit of popping up right when the family are so desperate that they give him another chance to prove he can be good.

My immediate thoughts were, Wow, what a journey these characters go on in this book, both individually and as a group. Sadly, we also say goodbye to one of the main characters, their loss will be felt strongly along with the losses from the previous book. This family has reunited but there have been many casualties they have certainly not escaped unscathed.

Summing up, Wow! What a book! I can't wait to read more about these surviving characters, and where their journey will take them. Will it be to safety or more terror? Will it be just their family alone or will they meet others to build a community with? The possibilities are endless!!

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