Review : The Things That Keep Us Here

The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley
Pages : 404
Genre : Speculative Fiction
Series : Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about :

When a virulent pandemic comes to America from across the sea, Ann and Peter Brooks are ready to do anything to protect their children. Even though they recently split up, they decide to move back together, with the addition of Peter’s beautiful assistant. Thus begins a life in constant fear, the sickness taking the lives of 50% of those who contract it. Soon there is no electricity, food is scarce and the cold winter weather is more menacing than ever before.

My Thoughts :

About two years ago (how time flies by!), I was a bit disappointed when I read In a Perfect World by Laura Kasischke. Both the plot and the characters felt a bit like empty shells, and while I was intrigued enough to go through the book, I felt I had more bad than good to say about it.

Fortunately, where In a Perfect World failed me, The Things That Keep Us Here gave me a lot more answers. It would be impossible not to compare the two with such similar premises, but without a doubt, I found Buckley’s novel to be a much more realistic experience.

A great strength in Buckley’s novel is how human her story is. I find that family dynamics are always interesting to explore, and mixing this imperfect family with such a terrifying setting really brought something more to this kind of story. Buckley really focused on the characters and what they lived through, and I found them to be really well fleshed out. Ann, the main protagonist, has a story of her own that starts way before the pandemic and gives a lot of sense to her actions. Even though I’ve never been in her situation, past or present, I could relate to her feelings and sympathize with her – even though, on one specific aspect, I found her to be particularly naive, especially when a simple question would have made everything clear… As for the kids, they were acting like I would imagine kids in such a difficult time.

There’s also enough science in the book to explain what is going on, without it being too heavy on the non-scientific readers like me. I don’t know how much truth there is to the way Buckley developed it, but to this reader, it made enough sense to be believable. The fact that Peter himself was a scientist was also a great touch, since he knew better than anyone what to expect. This made things sometimes easier, sometimes more difficult for his family.

In the end, The Things That Keep Us Here was a good read that also gave a lot to think about. And I love that the cover is not only beautiful, but also very representative of the story.

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7 responses to “Review : The Things That Keep Us Here”

  1. zibilee says :

    I am glad to hear that this one was more to your liking than In a Perfect World was. I have to admit that your analysis has me really curious about trying this one out for myself. I love books that focus on pandemics and the repercussions of them. Great review today, Kay! I really enjoyed it and appreciated it!

  2. Meg says :

    Novels like this tend to freak me out — as did In A Perfect World — but I’m also really drawn to them, too. I haven’t ever found a speculative or dystopian read to rival Life As We Knew It, but I’m always on the look-out!

  3. BermudaOnion says :

    This sounds like a page turner that would be relevant in today’s world.

  4. Kailana says :

    This sounds interesting, actually. Good review!

  5. toothy says :

    this one sounds good! i like reading about family dynamics too and after thanksgiving and spending so much time with them i’m ready for a break from my own family drama and read about someone else’s.

  6. Jennifer says :

    I am always in awe of speculative fiction like this. It is about so much more than what impossible circumstance is affecting the world. It is about illuminating something about the human condition. And in this book, it seems to be illuminating family dynamics which certainly are interesting to read about. As I continue to delve into speculative fiction, I will be sure to keep this one in mind.

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