Written by: Chad Lutzke
I’m just going to be blunt right away. I don’t like the title of the book, and I don’t care for the cover either. I don’t like them because I feel like they’re misleading. Not misleading in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village kind of way, but in that Tim Major’s caliber of writing far exceeded any expectations I had after seeing the cover, title, and reading the synopsis. It’s a fine wine and choice sirloin wrapped in a Happy Meal box. They do this great story a great injustice.
What I found inside were two sisters (Carus & Mitch) being brought to life by way of believable dialogue and character subtleties that drove much of the story. The two young girls (age 7 and the other in her teens) find themselves living alone in a house that has been strategically barricaded with particular areas off limits. And we don’t know why. Save for a certain time of day—and only in a particular area of the yard—going outdoors is forbidden. Again, we have no idea why. The younger sister is in the dark as much as we are, while her older sibling continually reassures her that there are no real people left and the world is not what it once was. Clues start to slowly give way to evidence of a post-apocalyptic setting with still several mysteries yet to be revealed.
Much of the book leaves you guessing as to what exactly is going on with these girls and the life they have grown accustomed to. For example, every day the girls harvest eggs from their live chickens and place them in a trade box beyond an unusually tall gate, while the enigmatic, unseen character who goes by the name of “Joms,” takes the eggs and leaves behind chickenfeed, cans of food, and crackers. Yes, a bit curious.
I was surprised at how long the story carried on without filling too much in and yet I didn’t care. Sure, I wanted to be let in on all the little secrets. But I was fully enjoying the mysteriousness of it all while watching the interaction between the two sisters. Major’s writing carried the story in a way that wouldn’t be easy for just any writer to pull off. I felt like I was never bored when I otherwise should have been.
Initially I wasn’t satisfied with the ending. It left some questions unanswered and took some deep reflection to search for conclusions. After further digestion, along with a good night’s sleep, my level of satisfaction upped. I don’t believe any reader will be able to fill every missing piece of the puzzle that is Carus & Mitch, but I think they’ll have fun trying.