I recently read an absolutely AMAZING fiction book. And I don’t use the word “amazing” loosely. I am not someone who uses “amazing” and “awesome” very casually in place of the word “cool” or something.
To me, the word “awesome” especially, and the word “amazing” are words to generally be reserved for something or someone who inspires literal awe or wonder. But I’m not a “political correctness” control freak either, whatever floats your boat!
Anyway, the book is incredible and has fantastic reviews. I got it at no cost on Amazon Kindle app for BlackBerryz10. It’s called “After the Cure” by Deirdre (I love the name!) Gould and takes place 8-10 years after an outbreak of a vicious and infectious disease that sweeps across the world taking out most people. It’s extremely contagious and there’s no escaping it. A few people in the world are Immune because of their genetic makeup which happens to be able to resist the Plague. And so they don’t contract the Illness. But they still suffer greatly.
This disease turns people into cannibals. They become violent and vicious and eat anyone they can get their hands on. They uncontrollably devour their friends, family, strangers, animals….but it’s not their fault as their brains are ravaged by disease.
But the novel isn’t really about the Infection itself; it’s about the psychological damage almost every person who survives, which isn’t many, is faced with after the disease is cured. Somehow a Cure is found and the “zombie-like” people get better but they remember everything they did. They remember viciously attacking, killing, and eating everyone they came in contact with.
They remember what they felt, what they heard, smelled, and tasted as they uncontrollably attacked innocent people and animals.
And now many of them feel like monsters and are accused by many of the Immune as being monsters.
They are overwhelmed in guilt. They are good people who just got sick. Many of them die by suicide. And many of the Immune people die by suicide because they also are guilt-ridden and lost almost everyone they know to the Infected killing them. They had to kill many of the Infected people who tried eating them. Then after the Cure was found, they felt guilty that they killed innocent, sick people who could have healed, even though it was to save their own lives and the lives of others.
It’s also a story about segregation (segregation based on health status) and how many Immune people are prejudiced against the Cured who were once Infected. They think of them as “zombies” and monsters and repulsive because they once ate humans. They aren’t zombies though. They never died and just like anyone, can be easily killed in any way. And once they are dead, they can’t come back. It’s kind of like a zombie thriller but more realistic. Realistic because, they are just people with an Infection which causes their brains to change, not people who died and came back and can only be killed a certain way.
They even have separate neighborhoods for the Immune and the Cured.
Immune people are supposed to register with the government as Immune and only marry another Immune person and Cured are only supposed to marry other Cured and eventually die out. The government doesn’t want their dna to keep going since it’s not resistant to the Infection.
They aren’t supposed to mix.
The book takes place after most people are Cured, not during the Outbreak. There aren’t many people left in the world, even ten years later and the government is trying to force everyone to have kids.
As I said, it’s not really a thriller in a zombie attack way, it’s more about the psychological effects on the people. But there is a big mystery throughout the book that Mr. Frank Courtlen, a lawyer, and Dr. Nella Rider, a psychiatrist, are determined to solve because many lives depend on it.
There won’t be any really big spoilers here, most of this info you will know by reading the description of the book or find out in the beginning of the book. But if you would prefer to not know without reading, click it off now!
It’s entertaining and thrilling, a kind of mystery, but it also has a deeper message about compassion, understanding, and true, unconditional love and acceptance as well as hope. I believe the underlying message can apply to our real life situations.
Some people are afraid to confess to others what they did while they were Sick or what they did to survive if they were Immune. They are afraid people will no longer like them and will reject or think less of them.
The two main characters are Mr. Courtlen, the defense attorney for a doctor in trouble for something involving the Disease and Dr. Rider, the psychiatrist who is to evaluate and check the defendants in a Trial over the Infection outbreak. She was also involved in helping Cure and care for the Sick during the initial Outbreak.
They are both very loving and compassionate people who want nothing but the best for anyone and everyone and they risk their lives to do what they believe is right and to save the lives of others. They both have deep empathy and compassion even for those who many people would think do not deserve it.
Dr. Rider is Immune but she’s completely compassionate and accepting of the Infected and Cured. She doesn’t see them as any different than herself. She never viewed them as zombies or monsters or repulsive, even when they tried to attack her. And she doesn’t support the discrimination and segregation. She accepts all people just as they are, no matter what whether it’s in relation to health or anything else. She believes that everyone belongs together. She’s my favorite character.
She and the lawyer become very close and they both have dark, painful secrets or things they are hesitant to reveal to each other out of fear of losing the other’s respect and love.
I wrote about this concept before, here on the blog. My opinion is that it’s best not to cover up parts of our true self just so people will like us or not dislike us. No matter how much we love those people or how afraid we are of losing them.
Maybe some things people just want to keep to themselves and that’s ok. But it’s something else to conceal something just so we are liked or not negatively judged by others.
I don’t want someone to like/love me just because there’s something that person doesn’t know about me where if s/he found out, s/he would no longer care for me. I would prefer people to know and reject me right then if it’s going to happen.
This can be anything: religious or political views, certain choices we have made, opinions on anything, scars, flaws, mistakes, health issues….if someone doesn’t accept you for all that you are, all that you have been, and all that you will be, in my opinion it’s not real love and not worth it then. There’s always someone who will embrace all of the person even if that person doesn’t like or agree with some things. We can accept the good with the bad, the flaws with the perfections, maybe even see the beauty in those flaws.
If we take the chance and open up about various things we can and sometimes probably will be criticized or rejected in some way. I believe that it’s worth it. And for all the people who dislike us, there are so many who will love/like us. They can’t replace the ones who reject us but at least you know that someone out there in the world somewhere desires just what you have to give and all that you are. I’m not just referring to romantic love but also platonic.
In my opinion it’s ok to care what people think of us, to be concerned and even afraid sometimes but without going overboard to the point we obsess over it frequently or change or pretend to be something we’re not. It’s not good to be like a zombie, completely unaffected by those around us but not good to be obsessed and anxious often, either. We can find a good balance of generally caring but not too much.
And I think there are at least two ways to not want to offend people. One is because we feel awkward about confrontation or what they think of us, that they are judging us, the other is because we genuinely care about the person’s wellbeing and do not want to inflict/contribute to unpleasant emotions. I think the second one is better. It’s rooted in selfless compassion where the first is rooted in selfish fear or awkwardness.
I think sometimes for many people, when we get to know someone then find out things we don’t like, we will still want to be friends with that person where if we first saw the things we do not like, before getting to know the rest, we may not be as thrilled to be friends with the person. (Imagine someone rudely spewing obnoxious views the second you meet, you may not care to know more. But imagine meeting a funny, loving, passionate person you instantly love then later hearing those obnoxious views, you may be more likely to accept it even if you don’t like it. I think most of us have love and offense, beauty and ugliness, can be rude and also respectful…and it’s good to give people a chance.)
I know many people refuse to discuss controversial views or refuse to tell details about themselves that may not be accepted by others, because of fear of rejection, fear of no longer being liked by those who once or would have liked them if they did not know this about them.
But if people only like you because they do not know a certain thing about you, is it really a genuine relationship? Is it really authentic love or an authentic sense of liking? Is it really worth it? I really don’t think so. Or at least, in my opinion, it’s not a relationship worth keeping around by pretending to be something else or covering things up. Just because you don’t express your views or certain things about yourself doesn’t mean they aren’t here.
Even if no one ever finds out, those things still exist about us. So why not just embrace it? It’s part of us whether we like it or not. It’s not going anywhere no matter how much we want it to. So who cares what “they” think or say about it or us?!
Someone can be very likable to many people because they aren’t very open and people only see the surface but there’s more than that surface for all of us, and repressing, concealing, or lying doesn’t make it go away. Those people who never ever discuss politics, for example, or reveal much about their life still have those views (unless they are truly politically apathetic but even then, they likely have some sort of views) and still have that life. They still have those “flaws.”
I understand not discussing controversial views or details just to avoid trouble/arguments on some occasions or because it’s embarrassing to have people know certain things about us or because we genuinely do not want to offend a person right then because we care about the person’s happiness and not just because we feel afraid of confrontation or what they will say to us, that’s one thing. Or because something is painful or something we just don’t care to discuss.
But intentionally covering up things about us or trying to change certain things just because people may no longer be our friends either in person or on social media accounts or because people may not like or respect us as much, is, in my opinion, not good. I prefer people to reject me if they are going to because at least it’s genuine. I have lost Facebook friends and the love of some people in person merely because of my views on some things. Not always even because of my attitude about it, I did not always have an unpleasant attitude. I was just firm and assertive in my views. Which I will continue to be.
I have also lost acquaintances online and off because I revealed my struggle with depression and suicidal thinking. I have had people look at me weird, look at me like I’m a freak. And men who were interested in me back off after they found out. This does not happen often. Most people seem understanding and accepting. But it’s not pleasant when it does happen.
But I will continue to be open and honest.
I used to see this as being true to myself but now even more importantly, I see it as being true to others. I genuinely don’t
want people wasting their energy or time on me just because they think I’m something I’m not or don’t know something about me where if they found out, they would move on.
Whether it’s on social media or in person.
I don’t want people to be rude and discriminatory and I think it’s great for us to be accepting but that doesn’t mean we have to surround ourselves with people we would rather not. I want people to mostly be surrounded by those they feel nourish, love, fuel, inspire them, people who are open and honest with them, not people who intentionally go out of their way to cover up stuff just not to lose “friends” which in my opinion isn’t true friendship. We don’t all have to want to be friends with everyone. It’s ok to choose not to be friends with certain people. We can still be loving or positive about it and go our separate ways, wishing everyone the best.
I’m not saying to just spill everything constantly in every situation and every occasion, ignoring boundaries, of course not, I’m talking about when it comes up in appropriate contexts or if we truly feel the urge to reveal something about ourselves. Then I think it’s good to be open and honest and lose whoever I will. I will continue to love those people and wish them the best (if only in my head, I’m not going to keep contacting people who want nothing to do with me but I won’t have animosity for them either.).
Also if we change something about us or pretend to be someone else just so people will like us, there’s still going to be people who don’t like us. You can change or lie about your views, your body, your hair color, your job…then there will be people who don’t like the “new” you. For all of us, there’s many who like and will like us and some who won’t. And that’s ok.
I think this novel is beautiful and challenges our views of beauty and provokes thoughts on unconditional love and acceptance. It conveys the message that every person makes mistakes or does something that someone else will not like, does things we aren’t proud of, and can be judged by someone somewhere and how it’s good to not overly judge people in negative ways. We usually do the best we can the best we know how in each moment and even if we don’t, there’s a chance later to be better. We aren’t the person we previously were. All that matters is who we are now. We don’t have to be imprisoned by our past. We can start now and be as loving as possible to everyone we encounter. We can take all that we were and all that we are and use it for the best, to build our- self into more greatness. The seemingly unpleasant facts about ourselves can be used as a catalyst for positive change.
What matters most is that the heart is in the right place and that we see each other’s true inner beauty, not get lost judging mistakes and flaws.
The book has about 399 pages, I think, and is very much the page turner! I seriously couldn’t sleep night after night because I stayed up reading and thinking about the book. I felt so involved in it and so empty and so full when it ended. I miss the characters and the world in the book. I want it all back! Lol I even plan on reading the book again! I feel that way with lots of books but not usually to this depth. The author is so skilled and a gift to the world. She really brings her characters alive and the two main ones are very well developed. The book is fairly long, nearly 400 pages, but for this one, that’s not long enough!
The story is grounded in so much hope.
It conveys the message that no matter what happens, no matter how dark, ugly, agonizing something can be, the next morning the sun will rise, the stars will shine in the night sky, the Earth will spin and flowers will grow. And that people are basically good. While there are those with cruel intentions who want to hurt(probably because they themselves are suffering in some way), there are many, many more and always will be more, who want to love and help and show compassion.
Yes, I seriously recommend it! I read some of the reviews and even some people who aren’t into zombie thrillers love it. As I said, it’s not really about zombies because first, they aren’t zombies anyway, just sick people. And also it takes place years after the Outbreak and is mostly about the aftermath. There are still some Infected people who have yet to be Cured where the Cure hasn’t yet reached and there is some adventure. There’s two other books about different aspects of this Infection, by the same author but can all be read separately, I think. I haven’t read those yet.
“Love isn’t blind; it sees but it doesn’t mind.”
To love, we don’t have to be “blind” to each other’s flaws. We can open our eyes, open our hearts and see. But love anyway.
I’m wishing you much love & happiness today and always.