Men are most complex, because we think with two heads.
That's what I thought reading this book. I will go more into that later, but "Strain" was exactly how my pants felt while reading.
In this post-apocalyptic world, a viral plague has swept the world as the result of a biological warfare gone wrong. The result of this are the creation of superhuman soldiers (named Jugs, short for Juggernauts), the terminal disease known as Rot, and manifestation of feral humans known as Revs (not zombies!). Our especially young, and naive 19 year old Rhys Cooper, has been holed up in a monastery when the Revs attacked. He becomes infected with the blood of the Revs, before the Jugs were able to save him. With the possibility of either dieing from Rot, or become a Rev, his only salvation is to become infected with the same viral strain that created the Jugs, and will impart immunity to Rot and becoming feral.Of course
, this saving virus is best transmitted through butt sex. Several times a day over six weeks. (Can I get a prescription for that?).
At this point, my two heads weren't in agreement. My big head rolled its eyes at this, not expecting the equivalent of an omega werewolf orgie among a den of alphas. The last thing I wanted to read about is a naive virgin boy being passed around the dinner table like the salad bowl at Olive Garden.
Yet at the same time, my little head:
So yes, there's the fact that Rhys gets to have butt sex with all these hot super soldier guys. I'm not a fan of this, as I'm usually a one-on-one (or even a one-on-one-on-one) kind of guy. But what saved this story was the fact that it managed to not feel like some cheap porno shot in a post-apocalyptic Super 8 Motel. In all seriousness, the author did a good job in making the act feel more like a necessity for Rhys to survive. It seemed obvious that Rhys only felt an emotional attachment to one
of the guys, the 43 year old (and very alpha male-possessive) leader Darius, which allowed the romantic in me breath a little easier. At the same time, I felt that there really wasn't really much of a basis for Rhys' and Darius' feelings for one another since most of their interactions were sexual as opposed to having conversations with one another. After a while, I shrugged it off. At least they started getting to know one another more in the later half of the book. Readers should also note that there is a strong d/s relationship here, including other kinks.
The world building was excellent. As I mentioned earlier, this isn't really a zombie apocalypse as there are no zombies. Just feral humans, super soldiers, and the Rot. Most of the first half of the story focused a lot on Rhys' emotional hangups, which grated on my nerves. Yes, he's young and naive and was abused. But I just couldn't, for the life of me, understand where he was getting at. And I don't think he did either.
Talk about annoying.
But he eventually spelled it out later in the book and became more likeable. Thank goodness! And Darius (asides from his ponytail), was hot as hell. Very aggressive alpha male personality that may not win awards for originality, still made my pants steam. There was also a nice cast of secondary characters that lend enough presence for readers to become emotionally attached (mainly, the other members of Darius' team).
There was a bit of action towards the middle and end of the book. And I was even shocked to find myself getting tearful at the end.
So yeah, lots of over the top sex (butt sex with five people in a row?!) without feeling (too) porny. Emotions from "I am horny" to "WHERE'S THE KLEENEX?" (more of the former than the later). A nice cast of characters and a well constructed dystopian world.