ARC Review: Hearts Still Beating by Brooke Archer

Posted March 27, 2024 by Lisa Mandina in Review / 11 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review:  Hearts Still Beating by Brooke ArcherHearts Still Beating by Brooke Archer
Published by Razorbill on April 2, 2024
Genres: YA Dystopia, YA Horror, YA LGBTQ
Pages: 331
Source: the publisher
Format: ARC
My Rating: four-stars
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Gripping, romantic, and impossible to put down, this dark and immersive post-apocalyptic debut YA novel is about two teen girls who loved each other before the end of the world — and before one of them became infected with the virus that turned her into a monster.

Perfect for fans of Krystal Sutherland, Adam Silvera, and the darkly human side of the HBOMax horror-drama, The Last of Us.

Seventeen-year-old Mara is dead—mostly.

Infected with a virus that brought the dead back to life and the world to its knees, she wakes up in a facility to learn a treatment for the disease has been found. No longer a Tick, Mara is placed in an experimental resettlement program. But her recovery is complicated by her destination: she’s sent to live with the best friend she hasn’t seen since the world ended—and since their first and only kiss.

Seventeen-year-old Rory is alive—barely.

With impaired mobility from an injury and a dead sister, Rory’s nightmares are just as monstrous as the Ticks that turned her former best friend. Even after the Island—one of a handful of surviving communities—rebuilds itself, Rory is prepared for the Ticks to return at any time. She never expected them to come in the form of the only girl she’s ever loved.

As the girls struggle with their pasts and the people they’ve become, the Island’s soldiers go rogue and come after the Ticks and anyone harboring them. With the Island’s fragile peace in the balance, Rory and Mara must lean on each other to survive—or risk losing the girl they love all over again.

I won this book from a Goodreads Giveaway. The fact that it compared the story to the tv show The Last of Us, which I enjoyed, is what got me interested. I do enjoy a good zombie/post-apocalyptic story. This had a lot of really interesting aspects and unique details. The story is told through the POV of both Mara and Rory. Mara was infected with the Tick, or the virus that created the zombies. But somehow the scientists have found a type of drug that can help the Ticks become human, mostly, again. Mara is one of them, and is being sent to live with her godparents. Her own parents are dead, she killed them. She has an older sister, but she won’t take her. Mara’s godparents are Rory’s parents. But Rory has been dealing with living through this new world. She’s felt like her parents didn’t take care of her at times and she now calls them by their first names. She lost one of her younger sisters to the Ticks, and then had to kill her sister herself to keep her from turning.

Mara and Rory had been best friends, maybe more, before all this happened. So the two of them are learning whether any of that friendship or more is still there. But of course you know in a world like this the guys running the towns aren’t always as good of guys as you think there are. And there are also all the people who don’t trust that this medication will actually help the Ticks, or even if it does, they still think they all deserve to die because they killed people before. Also Mara’s older sister wants her dead too.

Seeing the way the world had changed was interesting and I liked both the things that reminded me of favorite shows and movies, as well as the newer takes on things the author had. I liked the characters’ growth and how they came to figure things out. There was also a unique change in what happened when the medicine wasn’t given for several days, and how different zombie/ticks reacted to not having it. Definitely a good read!

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11 responses to “ARC Review: Hearts Still Beating by Brooke Archer

  1. Suzie B

    I LOVED The Last of Us – so I think this would be one I would really enjoy! Thanks for the review 🙂

    • Lisa Mandina

      As with most of these types of stories, it is truthfully more about the people and how they’re dealing with all of it, but yeah, it is still a zombie/horror story.

  2. I am not a fan of zombie/ horror books, but this one does sound good with the Ticks and the medicine. The relationship between Mara and Rory sounds interesting with everything that happened between them and them havign to figure out what’s still between them.

    • Lisa Mandina

      I think that is what got me to quit TWD as well. And I just can’t get back into the new spinoffs even though I’ve tried.

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