Series: Juniper Unraveling #1
Also in this series: Calico Desceding, Kings of Carrion, God of Monsters
Published by Indie on October 31, 2017
Genres: Romance, Dystopia
"This is what would happen if you took Resident Evil, added a dash of Walking Dead, and then mixed it all up with an incredible romance."
Papa says everyone has a story that deserves to be told.
Most begin years ago, after the second bomb hit, unearthing a deadly contagion that divided the population into the pure, the infected, and the Ragers.
Many recount the moment we rose up from the ashes and started anew.
Others tell of the day we built a wall to keep them out.
For some, they’re nothing more than the vestiges left behind—a simple name carved into the knotty bark of a Juniper tree.
My story begins with a boy. A mute, from the other side of the wall, known only as Six, who touched my heart in ways that words never could, and gave me the courage to face my darkest truth.
Juniper Unraveling is a full-length standalone dystopian romance.
❝We’re the perfect, twisted match, destined for pain like a sad tragedy. The moth who fell in love with the flame. He’s the reaper, and I’m his disciple.❞
As a blogger, I am amazed and honored each time I am given the offer to read books before they go on sale. I cannot always read what is offered due to time constraints, as well, I don’t sign up for every book available to me, no matter how much I love the author, because if the book is a genre I don’t typically read (ie PNR, Fantasy, Dystopia) or if the subject matter isn’t what I enjoy (has my hard limits), I politely run the other way. But sometimes, because I have faith in the author, I preorder the book and quietly read away. This was the case with Juniper Unraveling. I had no intentions of drawing attention to what I was reading because I don’t read Dystopia and if I didn’t like it, how would I go about explaining not liking a book from an author I admire? Well, that was unnecessary. Because I could not stop talking about it. To any and everyone who would listen and even those who pretended to be listening, I shared my updates and my gasps and my tears. This story and these characters would not leave me alone, they demanded to be heard.
There is a storm of thoughts swirling in my head right now. Many of them too strong and harsh to put in words, however, the ones that are bubbling to the surface demanding to be heard are winning the fight of speechlessness. Keri Lake is an author who demands respect. Respect for her storytelling and respect for her craft. She is hands down, undeniably one of the most outstanding authors I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. You don’t read her stories, you become them. Unfailingly, she immerses her readers in the anguish, and despair of her characters. And just when you think you can’t take anymore, she tempers the pain with joy and love. If ever there was an author who deserves to ride the tide of fame, it is Keri Lake.
In case I’ve not made myself clear, I don’t read dystopia! And I can count the number of fantasy and PNR books I’ve read on ONE HAND. But somehow, Keri Lake crafted a story so smart and so magnetic, that I had no choice but to devour it. Juniper Unraveling captured my thoughts. Each day, I would go to the office and share updates with my coworkers. I demanded they listen. I didn’t have a choice but to share my enthusiasm with them. It was as if I had been bitten and would soon turn into a Rager, myself. I went to the office Friday having reached the 70% mark and my coworkers told me not to read anymore over the weekend because they didn’t want me to forget what happened next. Clearly, they don’t know me well, nor the power of Keri’s words because waiting was not an option. Even though I did contemplate not reading any further when I reached 91% because I didn’t want this story to end.
I think what I liked most about this story was how it was rooted in real life. While we are not in threat of a zombie attack (at least I hope not), our past and present are riddled with races, nationalities, and religions who have been singled out and persecuted for being different. While reading Juniper Unraveling, I couldn’t help but think about the people who have been shunned, mistreated and tortured because of their differences. Many people fear different and sometimes when we act on our fears, rationality and common decency escape us.
❝You see the world as it is. I see the world as it isn’t. But what we see individually is molded by our past, our experiences, and our hopes of what’s to come. Always remember that everyone has a story, and you’ll never know hate for another human being as long as you live.❞
Warning: This book contains explicit sexual content and violent scenes that some readers may find disturbing.
That warning was at the beginning of the book. To say I was frightened to proceed is an understatement. I know Keri can write dark stories, ones that have me reading with one hand over my eyes while I peek through my fingers to read, so yeah, that warning started my heart palpitating. And, what do you know, this book held 2 of my 3 hard limits. So now, not only am I reading a romance genre I never read, but I am also reading a story with topics I never read about …
And yet it was still brilliant!
When bombs unearth a deadly contagion, the population was divided into the pure, the infected, and the Ragers. The pure rightly fear Ragers and do not know enough about the infected, causing irrational fear. A community is built keeping the pure “safe”. But safety is an illusion. It is the monsters walking among them they should fear the most. They blindly follow Andrew Szolen, the designer of the self-sustaining city and “leader” of the community the pure live in. Brainwashed by fear, they follow and do not question things like the smoke coming from the stacks at the hospital beyond the walls, or the many trucks going in and out of that building. As long as they are safe …
❝But there is no monster more terrifying than the human being who lacks compassion.❞
Wren isn’t like the others. She’s curious, she questions and doesn’t settle for “because I said” or “that’s the law”. She wants to know what goes on in that building with its smoke and its guards. Inexplicably drawn to the building, she often ventures into restricted areas. On one of her trips, she see’s another human, a boy who is scarred and bruised, and looks to be starving for food, companionship, affection. Through the breach in the fence, she brings him food. While he doesn’t speak, the two find a method for communicating. When she can no longer accept the brutality she knows he is enduring, she devises a plan for his escape. Unfortunately, living among the pure will not be easy for the boy from beyond the wall.
A constant rollercoaster ride, Juniper Unravelling is about what happens when you no longer accept the status quo. When you ask questions and push for answers. It is love at its purest.
❝Isn’t that the way of love, though? It’s like a flame, a magnificent gift of nature that draws you into its warmth. The closer a person gets, the more they sacrifice themselves, until they’re burning in that unforgiving fire, wishing to become numb, as they turn to nothing more than ash on the wind.❞