Dr. Elliot Drake, known as Dred, and his companions have just woken from nearly 50 years of sleep in a Sedona cave. When they went in? All was fine. Now? Not only has the world been destroyed, but each man seems to have woken up with superior strength and one enhanced talent each - oh, and they haven’t aged a day yet. Hell, if that’s what gets me through cataclysmic earth changes, by all means, we’ll be moving to Sedona!
Elliot thinks he’s woken up with only the ability to scan detect what is wrong with people; he’s a doctor after all, a definite plus when there are no antibiotics around. The group of men have been slowly making larger and larger circle around Sedona trying to find civilization. Here and there they run into others, but are left wondering where are all the people? They’re told to head to Envy, but no one’s quite sure where that is.
Teenagers can do stupid things, but heading out to score some crystal dust after sundown in a postapocalyptic future might just be one of the dumbest stunts they could pull. Especially when there are zombies, called Gangas, out there ready to tear you apart. Unless, you’re blond, then they take you back to the Strangers - cult of Atlantis members made immortal by the crystals they’ve surgically embedded into their collar bone or just below. Ms. Ware does a pretty good job of weaving in the history of what happened as well as explaining the terms ganga and Stranger through the story telling, which helps the believability factor. I admit, I was having a hard time with the term “Stranger” throughout the story, regardless of her explanation.
Jade, smoky singer and an undercover Runner for the Underground Resistance, runs into Elliot and his crew on a rescue mission. She needs to get those kids home before they’re missed and before they end up ganga food. Jade is hurt when finds the teens under siege. Elliot scans her, and then his new ability flares brighter. He heals her broken arm and wounds. When she falls into an uneasy slumber, he turns to tend one of the teens and passes the broken arm to her. He’s horrified. Jade spends the night on the second floor of an abandoned home with the teens and men and disappears in the early morning.
Elliot and the others lead the teens back to Envy, population 750, and learn it’s New Vegas (NV) and there really is civilization to be found. They’re welcomed with open arms, hailed heroes and invited to stay. With the ocean now on their doorstep and many casinos underwater or toppled, Elliot and the others realize just how far reaching the devastation was. Meals are shared in one of the three available restaurants. Residents have taken up hotel rooms as their own in those they’ve managed to restore power and water to. Every one has a job to help out the community and payment is made in casino chips. They learn more about the Strangers, learn they’re not the only ones who remember the time before. Elliot is drawn to Jade although scared about his healing power, but starts to help the Underground realizing it’s the only way to find answers to what happened to all of them. And maybe, just maybe figure out a way his new ability isn’t going to be a curse.
Joss Ware’s characters are multi-faceted. Layers are built into each character so you start to learn more about Elliot, his calling to be a doctor, and the dark twist his power takes on. Jade is focused and strong. Her strength is really revealed slowly in the beginning in the risks she’s willing to take, and then in her sacrifices later. The details she applies to the world create a dark, bleak future, but the hint of hope is found in the animals roaming freely and mother nature taking over.
Beyond the Night is dark and captivating, offering just enough horror and romance to draw in readers of both genres. Will Elliot’s healing powers kill him or save him? Will Jade learn to trust again? And just who are the Strangers.
The Awakening Heroes series released in January 2010 and books are currently available on Amazon.com. For more on the series and the author visit www.joss-ware.com.