The Last of Us meets Bird Box in Sunny Moraine’s Your Shadow Half Remains, a post-apocalyptic tale where eye contact causes people to spiral into a deadly, violent rage.
ONE LOOK CAN KILL.
Riley has not seen a single human face in longer than she can reckon. No faces, no eyes. Not if you want to survive.
But when a new neighbor moves in down the road, Riley’s overwhelming need for human contact makes her throw caution to the wind. Somehow, in this world where other people can mean a gruesome, bloody death, Ellis makes her feel safe. As they grow closer, Riley’s grip on reality begins to slip and she can no longer fight her deepest desires.
All Riley wants to do is look.
“A refreshingly original take on dystopian fiction, Moraine’s latest is as haunting as it is thought provoking.” ―Booklist (STARRED review)
I saw a fellow FanFiAddict reviewer post this one and saw the Josh Malerman’s Bird Box comparison. So I was incredibly excited to start it when I was approved through NetGalley for the audiobook. The narration by the author is pretty perfect honestly.
This story has many threads that can be drawn to the Covid pandemic, however, it is taken a step further in almost every aspect, so as to be it’s own thing. (Don’t worry Covid novel haters, it’s really not one!).
It is however, featuring a mysterious virus that seemingly turns normal, everyday humans, into angry, murderous versions of who they once were. Women, men, and children of all varieties fall victim to the virus. Wives, husbands, sons and daughters. Moms and dads. Coworkers and strangers. All they seem to know is that it spreads through eye contact. It has broken down society in every form.
I will say the audiobook version says, “The Last of Us meets Bird Box,” which maybe they meant the violence of TLOU, but it made me think (fungal-)zombies instead, which this is not. And although Bird Box is most definitely a good comparison, I didn’t find this one to hit its stride in the same way BB does with suspenseful-ness. However this one is a novella, not a full length novel.
Riley has survived. She lives in a somewhat secluded area, ordering what she needs, and always has it set to contactless delivery. Even though these are becoming less and less frequent, so far she’s made do, for years. But when a new neighbor, Ellis, introduces himself, her entire world has to shift. He wants to be friends, he doesn’t stay away, and seemingly worst of all, he makes her comfortable.
As their relationship and their visits continue, Riley finds herself unraveling—spiraling as she has to wonder just what it would be like to look. The more tempting it gets, the more unhinged she becomes. This was a good examination of isolation, especially when it hinges on the unknown and fear. I absolutely loved the author’s pondering on whether the unknown and isolation would have Riley arrive at the same point as eye contact would.