In Anticipation: Horizon by Sophie Littlefield

And so all good things must come to an end.

In this case, I'm pretty sure that even the end is going to be good (and by "good" I mean "mega badass"). I'm talking about the third and final book in the Aftertime series by Sophie Littlefield. (Click to see my reviews for Aftertime and Rebirth.) Thus far, the trilogy's overarching story—which centers on Cass Dollar's struggle to survive and keep her little daughter safe in the midst of civilization's collapse—has been thrilling, (sometimes) scary, and (always) profoundly affecting. Check out the description (edited from the publisher's version to remove possible spoilers):
Cass Dollar is a survivor. She's overcome the meltdown of civilization, humans turned mindless cannibals, and the many evils of man.
     But from beneath the devastated California landscape emerges a tendril of hope. A mysterious traveler arrives at New Eden with knowledge of a passageway North—a final escape from the increasingly cunning Beaters. Clutching this dream, Cass and many others decamp and follow him into the unknown.
     Journeying down valleys and over barren hills, Cass must confront the worst of what's inside her—dark memories from when she was a Beater herself. But she, and all of the other survivors, will fight to the death for the promise of a new horizon…
From the looks of the blurb, this series seems to follow the structure of a classic three-act play: the first "act" does most of the setup and introduction of a dilemma, the second finds circumstances the most dire, and the third resolves or implies hope for resolution. (Think Star Wars, Episodes 4-6. ^_^)

The cover art for this book is, like the other two, fantastic. One can gather so much about the tone and direction of the plot by simply looking at the art, even without benefit of the book description. I'm still curious as to who made the call for the bird to be on all of the covers. There was a reference made to a bird in book one (I believe), evoking the thought that its very survival is a symbol of hope amidst such dire circumstances. Same thing with the choice of an overall color wash—a tentative shade of blue that hints at renewal. And then there's the hazy cloud formation, which on the Aftertime cover was a barage of smoke, and on Horizon appeared to resemble a disorienting fog. Here, it's thick healthy clouds just barely obscuring the sun's light. Hope! Life! We'll see if that comes together for the cast (fingers crossed).

But anyway. Enough nerdy cover art examination. It's just that everything about this trilogy of books has seemed so thoughtful and multi-layered. I cannot wait to have this final installment of the series sitting on my bookshelf, and I will continue to shout about the trilogy's awesomeness to anyone crazy enough to listen to me. ^_^

Horizon is available NOW (release date: January 24, 2012) from Harlequin Luna.

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