Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books
Date of publication: January 21st, 2023
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Mystery Thriller, Fiction, Adult, Suspense, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Apocalyptic
Three ordinary people risk everything for a chance at redemption in this audacious, utterly gripping novel of catastrophe and survival at the end of the world, from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man
Hannah awakens to carnage, all mangled metal and shattered glass. During a hasty escape from a secluded boarding school, her coach careened over a hillside road during one of the year’s heaviest snowstorms, trapping her inside with a handful of survivors, a brewing virus, and no way to call for help. If she and the remaining few want to make it out alive, with their sanity–and secrets–intact, they’ll need to work together or they’ll be buried alive with the rest of the dead.
A former detective, Meg awakens to a gentle rocking. She is in a cable car suspended far above a snowstorm and surrounded by strangers in the same uniform as her, with no memory of how they got there. They are heading to a mysterious place known to them only as “The Retreat,” but when they discover a dead man among their ranks and Meg spies a familiar face, she realizes that there is something far more insidious going on.
Carter is gazing out the window of the abandoned ski chalet that he and his ragtag compatriots call home. Together, they manage a precarious survival, manufacturing vaccines against a deadly virus in exchange for life’s essentials. But as their generator begins to waver, the threat of something lurking in the chalet’s depths looms larger, and their fragile bonds will be tested when the power finally fails–for good.
The imminent dangers faced by Hannah, Meg, and Carter are each one part of the puzzle. Lurking in their shadows is an even greater threat–one that threatens to consume all of humanity.
They circled the body in the snow. Scavengers. Looking for anything they might strip from the corpse.The Drift by C.J. Tudor
When I first read the synopsis for The Drift, I was initially put off by it. Why? For one, I am suffering from post-Covid burnout. That means I am actively not reading books with pandemic themes running through them. But something about this blurb made me take a second look at it, and that second look made me want to read it. Forget about the pandemic theme; I was genuinely interested in the scenarios and characters portrayed in the blurb. I am glad I did because this turned into a great horror book after a rocky (somewhat confusing) beginning.
There are trigger warnings in The Drift. They are gore, death, blood, body horror, detailed injury, gun violence, violence, murder, child death, suicidal thoughts, medical content, medical trauma, car accident, animal death, rape, suicide, terminal illness, torture, grief, abandonment, pregnancy, addiction, and body shaming. If any of these triggers you, I recommend not reading this book.
The Drift is a fast-paced book set in modern-day and future England. The plotline for The Drift could have been clearer to follow at first. Not going to lie to you all, but I had an issue following the timelines (there are three different ones) and the main characters. But the author does eventually tie them all together, but until then, it isn’t evident.
Getting back on topic, The Drift follows three people – Hannah, Meg, and Carter. Hannah is a student at a prestigious academy who is being evacuated to a place called The Retreat with several other students. On the way there, there is an accident, and everyone on board is killed except for Hannah and five other students. Desperate to escape, Hannah realizes that the virus that has killed half the population and keeps mutating is present in one of the dead. But there are more significant problems, such as a blizzard burying the bus, wolves, and several people on the bus hiding explosive secrets. Will Hannah and the other survivors make it out?
Fast forward ten years later, and the pandemic is still going strong. Meg, a former detective, is woken up and finds herself stuck in a cable car with other strangers while a snowstorm rages outside. When it becomes clear that no one is coming, the group of people starts turning on each other, with tensions ending in murder. Who is killing the other people in the cable car, and why? Will help come, or will Meg have to do the impossible swing on the cable car line to get to safety, which is 200 meters away? And what will happen to Meg once she is at the cable car station?
Fast forward around 2-3 years later, and everything has stayed the same. Carter is part of the science team who is turning out vaccines desperately to stem the pandemic’s spread. But his life at The Retreat is falling apart. Their generator is failing, the infected are closing in on the chalet, and the man who gives them supplies is suddenly wanting more. So, when various crew members are murdered or missing, Carter is on edge. See, Carter has an ulterior motive for being at The Retreat, and this motive, along with everything else, might get him killed. Why is Carter there? Who is he looking for? And, more importantly, will he survive the fallout?
The characters in The Drift were well-written. What I liked the most about them is that they were written to be morally gray characters. Take Carter, for instance. He did awful things to get where he was. But he wasn’t a bad person. He was doing what he had to do to get by in a society devastated by a pandemic that didn’t have a cure.
- Hannah— I liked her the most out of the three main characters. In her parts of the book, she brought a clinical, almost detached view of what was happening. She learned to do it after her mother died and relied on it to process everything. She quickly discovered certain things on the bus and was instrumental in helping when things started to go sideways. And it was that reason why I was so mad with how the author ended her storyline.
- Meg—She had the most heartbreaking storyline of the three characters. She was the most emotional out of the three because of what she went through. But I liked that she also thought like a cop. She knew something was up with the other people in the car. The scenes where she escaped the car were harrowing, and I didn’t think she would make it during parts of her escape. I disagreed with how her storyline ended, but I got why the author wrote it the way she did.
- Carter—I didn’t understand why he was included until halfway through the storyline. Then a lightbulb clicked on in my head. It made sense why he had such extreme frost bit to his face. I also liked how he followed his gut about who was killing the other people at The Retreat.
I mentioned at the beginning of this review that I wasn’t a fan of how the author wrote the timelines. She jumbled them all together, and we had to figure out where in the 12 years this book covers that it took place. It wasn’t obvious. But, a little more than halfway through the book, the author starts tying all three of the storylines together, and by the end, everything makes sense.
The storyline with Hannah, the bus crash, and everything else were well written. I felt awful for Hannah. Not only did she discover something horrible, but she had to do something terrible to save a life. I also felt her trust in a specific person was misplaced. As I mentioned in her section, I wasn’t happy with how her storyline ended.
The storyline with Meg, the cable car, the other passengers, and what happens after is interesting. I say interesting because of what the author reveals. Keep that in mind while you’re reading the book. How the author portrayed that storyline was interesting. There was a mystery that should have been super easy to solve but wasn’t. The breakout scene of this storyline was Meg’s escape while traveling the cable car lines. It was perilous. Again, I wasn’t happy with how Meg’s storyline ended, but I understood why it ended that way. It was something she wanted more than anything in the world, and while it broke my heart, it made me so happy for her.
The storyline with Carter, The Retreat, and the murders was interesting. I’m not going to get much into this storyline because there are major spoilers. But several things surprised me while reading it. Such as the murderer. I thought I knew who it was, and that was wrong. I also liked how the author brought elements from the previous storylines into this one. Again, I was taken by surprise at certain things revealed. Like the other two storylines, I wasn’t thrilled with how Carter’s ended. But it did make sense, and it explained a particular scene.
The Drift fits one hundred percent into the horror genre. The author did a fantastic job of creating a world ravaged by a pandemic similar to Covid. I had no issue picturing what happened in this book happening in real life. There is also a mystery angle to this book that the author did a fantastic job with. I usually can figure things out reasonably early, and I couldn’t in this book.
There are no happy endings in The Drift. I was surprised by who was featured at the very end. What that person did was surprising. All I could think was that this person had a death wish. It left me sad because of everything that had led up to that small chapter.
I would recommend The Drift to anyone over 21. There are language, violence, and non-consensual sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warnings.
Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books, NetGalley, and C.J. Tudor for allowing me to read and review The Drift. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
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