ARV-3 (The After Light Saga #1) by Cameo Renae
Publication Date: December 2013
Genres: YA, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian Fiction
The beginning of the end. The Apocalypse.
A nuclear fallout wiped out every living thing on the planet, except for a few thousand of us who took shelter in underground bunkers across the globe. Now, after thirteen long years, we were finally able to return to the topside to begin to rebuild.
We thought we were alone. We were never more wrong.
Before the fallout, scientists had worked on creating an anti-radiation vaccine (ARV). The first two attempts failed, but despite the incomplete tests and results, the government approved and distributed the third serum to the masses in an effort to aid those who had no shelter.
It worked, keeping those who remained on the topside alive, but it also altered and mutated them. This new and infectious threat had completely outnumbered us. Now, we not only had to rebuild our planet. We would have to fight for it.
My name is Abigail Park. I’m seventeen, and this is my story.
Lately, I’ve been reading quite a bit of apocalyptic/dystopian fiction, and I am so pleased that I discovered ARV-3, which veers away from some of the usual zombie apocalyptic stories I’ve encountered. Renae has added an intriguing but disturbing twist to this plot because the antagonists aren’t merely zombies infected with a virus who’ve risen from the dead to wreak havoc on the survivors. Instead, they are living, breathing humans who have, over time, mutated into frighteningly violent, animalistic creatures after they took an untested anti-radiation vaccine hastily distributed by the government prior to the planet’s nuclear meltdown.
Although the majority of the population was unprepared for this catastrophe, some doomsday planners were able to find safety in underground bunkers that they built and stockpiled for just such an emergency. When Abigail Parker, or Abi was just four years old, she and her parents escaped underground with several other families and hunkered down to live in an old missile silo. Abi has grown up in this insulated, but lovingly safe environment or “hive” with little memory of feeling the warmth of sunshine, the gentle breeze of the wind, or the grass beneath her feet. Now, after thirteen years below ground, contamination levels have been reduced and the story really begins once they resurface and begin their journey to one of the “safe zones,” a much larger, government controlled bunker where they can work together with other survivors to begin rebuilding the wasteland that is left.
Renae does an amazing job with world-building to help readers visualize the “hives” or underground facilities that house the survivors and the desolate landscape now bereft of animals and vegetation; the only topside inhabitants existing are the vile, cannibalistic creatures, called “Arvies,” who’ve lost their humanity and now roam the earth seeking the destruction of those around them. They crave human flesh, and one bite from an Arvy is all it takes to infect and spread the mutation. Their existence makes the story all the more horrific as Abi and her group realize that these were people with limited options for survival, who took the vaccine trusting that it would protect them from radiation poisoning, but as a result, were turned into abominable creatures who still show some capacity for thought. Although Abi and her group are forced to fight these creatures, Abi initially struggles with guilt over taking another’s life, and this is one of many attributes that make her character so realistic and believable.
At seventeen, Abi is perceptive, compassionate, loving, and wickedly gifted in the use of weaponry. With her trusty firearm named Hellfire, Abi proves herself over and over in helping her family and friends survive the multitude of crises they encounter at every turn. The story is well-paced and full of dangerous and suspenseful scenes that made it hard to take a reading break. Over the course of their journey I began to really care about this small group of survivors who are as close as family, extremely loyal, and always concerned for each other’s well-being.
Furthermore, I also became emotionally invested in the burgeoning romance between Abi and her best friend , Finn, who has grown into a handsome young man right before her very eyes. They finally reveal their mutual attraction for each other after they go topside, and I appreciated how easily they were able to express their feelings for each other and take their friendship to the next level. The description of their first kiss is memorable and is meant to solidify their commitment to each other. However, just as I suspected, their relationship will be tested after they settle in at the government run underground facility where they are surrounded by other teens, one of whom is set on vying for Finn’s attention and affection. The love scenes are sweet, touching, and appropriate for young adult readers.
Although I was sorry to reach the book’s conclusion since the plot is nowhere near finished, the author does provide a satisfying place to pause until the next installment is released. Overall, this was a well-written story with an engaging plot and relatable characters. I’m very interested in reading the next installment in this series, and I certainly recommend this book to teens and adults who enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction.
I received an ARC of this book from the author for an honest review.
START OF THE APOCALYPSE
THURSDAY – 3:16 PM GST
The sun aligned with the Milky Way galaxy, causing a gravitational pull, tugging on the sun’s surface. This caused a massive solar storm to erupt.
It was a solar storm of maximum proportions, labeled Class-X, and it triggered the beginning of the end. As soon as the mass ejection entered the earth’s atmosphere, it completely collapsed the national power grids, shutting down all navigational and communication systems across the globe. Millions were suddenly thrust into darkness.
The solar flare not only disrupted the earth’s magnetic field, causing thousands of birds and fish to die instantly, it also set off massive earthquakes and volcanic activity. Those who were at higher altitudes were exposed to massive doses of radiation from the sun.
Terror and chaos, along with widespread rioting and looting, broke out across the globe.
But that wasn’t the worst of it.
Over four hundred nuclear power plants were operating across thirty countries. Very few nuclear power plants were “walk away safe”. Even fewer had backup generator pumps which relied on large tanks of water for cooling the containment shells. Without electricity, it was only a matter of days before the unimaginable would befall.
Every nuclear power plant was a ticking time bomb, and most were running on battery power alone.
A majority of the population had no inclination their days were numbered. Within a span of about ten days, nuclear fuel would begin to melt through containment rods, sending out vicious, unspeakable amounts of radiation into the atmosphere.
There was no way to give warnings without communication.
The government, and a select few, started emergency evacuations into their underground bunkers around the world. Even the Doomsday Preppers withdrew to their own shelters, which left the rest of humanity unprotected, with no means of survival.
After the solar flare, skies everywhere danced with the most beautifully colored auroras. The beauty… before the beast.
All those who didn’t prepare, panicked, and ran to the few shelters set up by the governments. Shelters which were completely useless against the oncoming horror.
A handful of scientists had been working on a new serum, an anti-radiation vaccine, which was supposed to aid the body in resisting the absorption of radiation. The first two versions failed, causing the lab animals to become crazed and subsequently, die.
With the end swiftly approaching, the governments made an urgent and ill-advised decision. In an effort to keep the world’s populations from revolting and storming the emergency bunkers, they gave the people some kind of hope, offering reassurance that a vaccine had been created which would save them.
So, despite a lack of proper testing or receiving positive results, the government not only approved the third anti-radiation vaccine, it was mass produced. They used helicopters, which had been strategically kept protected against the electromagnetic pulses, for distribution to the shelters.
The helicopters were given orders not to land, but to simply drop the crates of serum, and head back to the bunkers. The risks of landing were too great.
Thousands panicked, storming the shelters; hundreds were killed in the name of survival. Many brandished guns or other types of weapons, and used them to try and secure vaccines for themselves and their families.
Meanwhile, secret bunkers around the world were filled to capacity and locked down.
Amidst all of this mayhem…it began.
The end of all things.
One by one, nuclear power plants across the globe began meltdown. Due to their size, a number of them exploded like atom bombs, spewing massive doses of radiation into the atmosphere. Slowly and quietly, the invisible death stalked, and was believed to have eventually killed every living organism on the topside.
Scientists estimated it would be a minimum of ten years before any form of life could safely set foot on the topside. Even then, many areas of the earth would be uninhabitable.
This is where I come in.
My name is Abigail Park. I’m seventeen, and this is my story.
An Exciting Scene from Abigail’s Journey
I turned and shot at every creature coming, but as soon as one dropped, another two took its place. All of our efforts were useless. This was it. This would be our final resting place. We’d come out from the safety of our hive, surviving thirteen years underground, to die.
“God. If you’re out there, we desperately need your help. Please,” I cried to myself. Tears streamed down my face, after witnessing what happened to Dr. Lisa.
Kaboom!!! A huge explosion rattled the whole mountain, sending a bunch of rocks tumbling and crashing down all around us.
“What the hell?” Sergeant Powell yelled, covering his face from the falling debris.
Then we heard it. Our redemption. There was a God, and he sent someone to save us.
Two choppers were headed our way, and in a matter of minutes a machine gun started firing and dropping the Arvies surrounding us. They even dropped a few grenades on the side of the mountain. The sound of gunfire and explosions were the most beautiful sounds I’d ever heard.
Death. It was all around us.
Amazon: ARV-3 (The After Light Saga)
Cameo Renae was born in San Francisco, CA, raised in Maui, Hawaii, and recently moved with her husband and children to Alaska.
She loved reading from as long as she can remember, and it was C.S. Lewis’ – Chronicles of Narnia – which sparked a fire in her soul and made her want to create her own wondrous, magical worlds and awesome characters to go on adventures with.
In My Dreams & Hidden Wings were both recently published through Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing earlier this year. Descent (A Hidden Wings novella) was released May 15, 2013, and Broken Wings (Book 2 in the Hidden Wings Series) was released June 1, 2013.
Her most recent release is ARV-3. A YA Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian novel with a new twist on zombies.
She is currently working on the next Hidden Wings Series book titled: Tethered Wings. No release date yet. 🙂
One day she hopes to find her own magic wardrobe, and ride away on her magical unicorn… Until then… she’ll keep writing!
A print copy of ARV-3 with an ARV-3 Swag Pack