I am going to do this review in two parts because the beginning and the end of this book demand I do so.
This novel takes place in my hometown San Diego. I’m that adolescent nerd whose heart glows with pride thinking that I’m sharing an inside joke with someone when they honor my little town. The joy I have for America’s Finest City’s starring role in TMD’s book endeared me to the story before I opened the book.
Weh I saw it I danced and sang, “Listen up, y’all! SD is in the house, R-E-S-P-E-C-T America’s Finest City! Holla”. Yep, I did.
Having lost her family and watching her children die of the red plague before her eyes, Riley has nothing left for her at home. San Diego was devastated and the earth has become depopulated after the pandemic. Riley and her dog are survivors stranded in a post apocalyptic nightmare. Trish Marie Dawson’s illustration of this grotesque afterlife is the backdrop for her main character’s struggle to tether herself in a world suddenly without purchase, as she ventures out leaving messages to anyone who may come looking for her with, ‘I hope you find me’.
In an I Am Legend-esque plot device Riley’s companion is her family pooch Zoey who survived the virus just as she has. Moving into the center city from her neighborhood Riley makes her way into downtown hoping to see any signs of life. Just when she thinks she is alone she finds another survivor, Connor who has taken refuge in an abandoned hotel building. The ‘what would you do if you were the last people on earth’ scenario goes into effect and for a few days it’s almost idyllic–with horrific hints here and there about something more ominous at work than a pandemic. Think Garden of Eden and all the things that Adam and Eve couldn’t conceive.
I loved where I Hope You Find Me was going. The plot while it is in San Diego is heavy with an innuendo of terror. There is an ominous feeling that at the corner of their sight the darkness holds terrible secrets. The idea that there is a possibility of dual realm or a psychic echo kept me riveted. I was 100% in, totally sold!
The drawback of leaving messages for someone to find you is that it leaves breadcrumbs for songbirds and vultures.
I didn’t mind the ‘will they, won’t they’ of Riley and Connor early on, it was couched within the story driven plot while they were in San Diego. Two living people in a world of nothing has an organic intimacy that enriches the delicacy of their humanity. The start of the book hangs on a thread of bated breath. Horror was around every corner. It’s when Riley comes into contact with more than one testosterone producer that she becomes uninteresting–and so does the story. Somehow Riley’s character devolves from a strong woman who is her own hero to a pathetic chick who sniffs out every scent so long as there is a guy to be found at the end of them.
Once Connor and Riley escape SD to the mountains they become part of a community-ish group living on the outskirts of nowhere. The relationship angle that filled out the story at the start becomes convoluted when she meets another male who is more rugged than the only other male she had. Of course the new male is totally into her and awkward love triangle develops. It would seem Riley needs a panel of adorers . She has the glossy attractive heartthrob and now the lumberjack. Then her ex shows up. Now she has a virile man, a debonair professional type, a devil-may-care-playboy, and throw in the psychotic stalker.
And WHO CARES at this point? The storyline that compelled me early on is lost to all this shacking up. Riley isn’t that awesome and unless she has girl parts made out of beer and steaks there is no reason for every male who meets her volunteering for her harem.
The beauty of the beginning of this book was the suspicion that the shadows had meaning but it’s lost by the middle of the book. The question that arose of the victims of the red death haunting the surviving world is forgotten. The possibility of the virus trapping the energy of the dead where they died isn’t even mentioned any longer. The thriller/horror angle ends and it’s an uninspiring country song about all the men Riley’s known and loved before. I prayed that a moment of clarity at the end of I Hope You Find Me might reset the story for the second book. It’s mopey namby-pamby lovey crap to the last sentence.
I went and read the reviews for the Lost and Found because I really wanted to be inspired to continue the series but it appears to be more of the same drivel. Book two reviews indicate that an alternate title could have been Riley Needs More Men. I wish Trish Marie Lawson could write an alternative ending to save this.
Meh–I guess it would really need to be an alternative middle through end, I could never get so lucky.
This is a disappointment.
Recommendations Based on This Read: