Series: The Line Between #2
Published by Howard Books on September 17, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Thriller
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In this gripping sequel to The Line Between, which New York Times bestselling author Alex Kava calls “everything you want in a thriller,” cult escapee Wynter Roth and ex-soldier Chase Miller emerge from their bunker to find a country ravaged by disease, and Wynter is the only one who can save it.
Six months after vanishing into an underground silo with sixty others, Wynter and Chase emerge to find the area abandoned. There is no sign of Noah and the rest of the group that was supposed to greet them when they emerged—the same people Wynter was counting on to help her locate the IV antibiotics her gravely ill friend, Julie, needs in order to live.
As the clock ticks down on Julie’s life, Wynter and Chase embark on a desperate search for medicine and answers. But what they find is not a nation on the cusp of recovery thanks to the promising new vaccine Wynter herself had a hand in creating, but one decimated by disease. What happened while they were underground?
With food and water in limited supply and their own survival in question, Chase and Wynter must venture further and further from the silo. Aided by an enigmatic mute named Otto, they come face-to-face with a society radically changed by global pandemic, where communities scrabble to survive under rogue leaders and cities are war zones. As hope fades by the hour and Wynter learns the terrible truth of the last six months, she is called upon once again to help save the nation she no longer recognizes—a place so dark she’s no longer sure it can even survive.
Humanity is decaying. Rapid-onset dementia has overtaken the United States. Just before she went into the bunker, Wynter Roth thought she had delivered the cure. She would emerge and the antidote would have been dispersed. Humanity would be shaken, but not fallen. The United States would be rebuilding, but not destroyed. But to keep others—and herself—safe, she has retreated into the bunker.
Six months. But six months locked in with a bunch of desperate and scared people may prove to be more dangerous than the world above. And how will they know if the antidote works?
The first quarter of A Single Light, Tosca Lee’s follow-up to her apocalyptic The Line Between, is set dozens of feet underground. It’s a close-quartered tale of the human drama of locking a group of diverse people underground with limited resources and claiming that it’s for their good. Tension boils like a pressure-cooker as Lee puts the plot on simmer and builds her characters, all counting down to the release from their prison of safety.
Of course, three hundred pages remain, meaning that all is not well above ground. When the bolt clicks open—a few days early, by the way—Wynter and the others are thrown out into a world that’s even worse than the one they hid from. But there is no going back. Supplies have dwindled and Wynter’s friend Julie desperately needs IV antibiotics. Wynter and Chase set off on a new adventure, driven by the need to save their friend but also haunted as to why the cure has not taken effect.
Even though it serves as a follow-up to the cliff hanger of The Line Between, A Single Light could actually be read in and of itself—minus a few details. I would have liked to have been longer in the bunker. That sort of closed-room story depends on a tightly-woven and character-focused drama that Lee excels at.
Just as I’m getting invested into all these characters, the bunker opens, the drama shifts, and—while Tosca’s world-building is top-notch (this review brought to you by hyphenated phrases, apparently)—the movement from small to big also dissipates much of the drama. The storyline shifts and characters that we’ve spent time learning about slowly fade into the background. I could’ve read a whole novel just on their time in the bunker. But, that’s my preferences.
Once they’re out, they find a whole new world—but not the kind they had hoped. The world that Lee paints is one of tongue-in-cheek poignancy. Mexico has built a wall to prevent Americans from escaping the disease. Puerto Rico is the American hub of power and technology. Insulation had turned to suffocation. Safety itself is what had brought peril. The government or any authority is largely absent. There is no end in sight.
As Chase and Wynter search for medicine, they must encounter this new world of the diseased, dispossessed, and the few remaining who rule through violence and power. The longer they spend on the outside, the more they learn of the last six months, and the more they discover that just maybe they can save it for real this time.
A Single Light is a breathtakingly captive thriller, a worthy follow-up to The Line Between. While she’s long proven her mettle in historical fiction and fantasy, this foray into an all-too-real apocalyptic future proves there isn’t a genre Tosca Lee can’t conquer. Whether in the confines of a fallout bunker or in the vast expanse of a dystopia, Tosca Lee shines light into the human soul and human experience, calling us out of the safety of closed-off hearts and into a wild world that only we can make better.