Thursday, April 1, 2010

Review: The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley

Tags: apocalyptic, flu, pandemic, family

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


In the not-so-distant future, a frightening avian flu pandemic sweeps across the world and kills almost 50% of the population. Ann and Peter have been separated for about a year, but the threat of the pandemic them back under the same roof with their two daughters, 13-year-old Kate and 8-year-old Maddie, and Peter’s beautiful lab assistant, Shazia. The virus shuts down the economy and makes longtime friends and neighbors suspicious of one another. Then, a huge snowstorm hits and shuts down the electricity. With the virus raging all around them and supplies running low, will Ann, Peter, and their household make it through?


THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE answers the apocalyptic “what if?” with terrifying realism. Carla Buckley’s debut novel draws us into Ann and Peter’s minds and will keep you awake long into the night.

If Jodi Picoult wrote apocalyptic fiction, the result would probably be something like THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE. Carla Buckley draws her characters with remarkable attention and care: Kate and Maddie in particular sound like kids their ages do. It’s hard to imagine what people would do in such a scenario, but they would probably act something like Ann and Peter do: uncertainly straddling the border between the person they always were and the person they are forced to be, bad parts and all.

The story revolves pretty much solely around Ann and Peter’s Midwestern home, and yet we catch a glimpse of a large number of secondary characters and smaller episodes that are the result of the pandemic. These episodes have Kate acting out against her family, unable (or unwilling) to understand the seriousness of the situation; Ann prioritizing the lives she can save and the limited risks she’s willing to take for the sake of her family. The wide variety of characters in this novel make so that anyone can relate to or empathize with at least one person, thus making this book enthralling for everyone.

THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE is a remarkable story about the complexities of human nature in the face of an international disaster. If you’re a fan of apocalyptic fiction, or if you appreciate well-written and interesting character-driven books, considering reading this one. It’s worth your time and attention!

Similar Authors
Susan Beth Pfeffer (Life As We Knew It)
Liz Jensen (The Rapture)
Jodi Picoult

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3 out of 5 - It's rather unfortunate that, for me at least, this cover is only truly creepy and disturbing after reading the book. It's not really something that would've caught my attention even though after reading the book I find it very appropriate. Which is too bad, since the story is definitely one of the kinds I enjoyed!

Random House / Feb. 9, 2010 / Hardcover / 416pp. / $25.00

Borrowed from library.


  1. Great review! I'm pretty sure I've heard of this book before, but I had no idea what it was actually about. I'm interested in reading it - it sounds so compelling!

    from Une Parole

  2. I loved this cover even before I read the book. And yes, it is so creepily appropriate!

  3. Great review! I have this one on my TBR list. It sounds so good! Now I want to read it even more.

  4. This really does seem like an interesting book!

  5. I love the cover. I have to say though the fact that it reminds you of JodiP books turns me off a little.

    Great review, this one is already on my TBR list.

  6. It's funny you mention Jodi Picoult because the cover of this book reminds me of her novels. :P

  7. i have this on my pile to read this month, so i'm glad to hear that you liked it so much. i actually liked the cover as soon as i saw it, but i'm glad to know that it'll make even more sense after reading it.

  8. Thanks for the review. This sounds really interesting.

  9. Great review! This one is sitting pretty close to the top of my TBR pile and I can't wait to read it. I have never read Jodi Picoult either, but your review makes me curious about her books, too! One of my friends is a complete Picoult fan and keeps pressuring me into reading one of her books.

  10. I like the premise of this one, although its grown-up-ness has previously put me off a little. From your review this sounds so interesting and well-written though, so I'll keep it in mind.

  11. This sounds great! Definitely one for the TBR. Thanks for reviewing.

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