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The Rains    by Gregg Hurwitz order for
by Gregg Hurwitz
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's something very different from one of my favorite thriller writers, Gregg Hurwitz. The Rains, first in a YA series (but definitely of interest to older readers as well), is a horrific dystopian Walking Dead with an alien invasion twist. And it moves at breakneck speeds to a cliffhanger conclusion that leaves readers gasping for more!

It all starts in a hardworking, rather isolated farming community, Creek's Cause, that lacks even cell-phone coverage. Fifteen-year-old Chance Rain admires and is overshadowed by his seventeen-year-old brother, Patrick, who has had his back since their parents died in a car crash. Since then, they've been raised by their beloved aunt and uncle. They work hard on the farm. Patrick has a lovely girlfriend, 'Alex with her hair the color of wheat and her wide smile and eyes like sea glass.' One of Chance's responsibilities on the farm is to raise ridgeback dogs, 'lion hunters from Africa, the most fearless and loyal creatures you'll ever meet.' He'll need them soon!

The Dusting begins when pieces of an asteroid hit - and seed - their area. About a week later, Chance is using baling hooks in the barn in the evening. Patrick finds his brother and tells him to bring the baling hooks. They head to the neighbor's where they find the adults horribly changed, zombie-like and vicious. They save the children, but quickly discover that everyone over eighteen in the region has been affected - and the adult Hosts are rounding up and imprisoning the kids. Of course, they rescue Alex as well and eventually take refuge in their high school, where they find one unaffected adult, Dr. Chatterjee - how was he spared?

They develop a theory, but there is dissension among the teens about how to proceed - and some of them (including Patrick) are very close to their eighteenth birthdays. They wonder if the phenomenon is local and a small party (headed by the Rains) decides to find out. You'll have to read this episode to learn what they discover; what happens when Patrick turns eighteen; the alien's ultimate game plan; and the mission the Rains must undertake to save humanity. This first episode ends on an impossible cliffhanger and I can't wait for more!

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