Verdict: This post-apocalyptic novel with a timely message grips readers in its action-packed thrall and keeps them thinking long after they’ve read the final page.
Zoe Wilkes is unable to pull her life together—until April 21, 2021, when the power blinks off, the internet goes down, and society collapses around her. She miraculously gets a fresh start in a self-sustaining community founded by the magnetic Jacob and his computer-genius friend, Miles. But Zoe soon realizes that despite the walls protecting her from the danger outside, she isn’t safe: the real threat comes from the very people she’s come to trust most in her small new world.
From the first page of THE WOLVES WITHIN OUR WALLS, author L.E. Flinders constructs a well-designed frame in which Zoe writes from the future to “tell the truth about what happened here and why I did what I did.” Her words immediately spark questions in the reader: Where is she? When exactly is it that she’s writing her account? And most important, what did she do that needs such justification? The answers to these compelling queries are skillfully drawn out through the course of this novel, and readers’ expectations are continually turned upside down with each new reveal.
Zoe, who admits to her unreliability as a narrator, is a complex character; her motivations change with the situation, and she’s constantly weighing morality and survival, goodness versus selfishness versus safety. With each nuanced conflict she faces—her tumultuous relationship with Miles, her deepening crush on Jacob, the realization that there’s blood on her friends’ hands—Zoe grows, then falters into denial, then grows even further in a way that feels startlingly real. Readers will find themselves in one moment rooting for her, in the next berating her, and in the last sympathizing with her again.
Flinders’ ability to stir up these emotions speaks volumes about the strength and quality of her writing. And though it is Zoe narrating the harrowing events that transpire both inside and outside the bounds of her community, the reader gets the sense that the author is speaking through her protagonist. Her theme is sometimes too glaring and obvious, but that’s a small price to pay for such an important message: “What happens with our community…it’s up to you. Leaders don’t make our choices for us…. And inaction doesn’t make us any less culpable.” Through Zoe’s story, Flinders reflects to us our own—a country divided and dishonest—and seems to implore us to see the real threat, the one inside, before it’s too late.
~Christina Doka for IndieReader