Hurst is set in the near future following a catastrophic outbreak of a deadly virus that brings civilisation across the world to its knees. Robin Crumby has aimed his dystopian tale at teens and young adults, tapping into the market created by The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner series among others. This can be a tricky feat: the writing needs to have enough bite to keep the pages turning but also not be too focussed on vileness to render it unsuitable for the target audience; on the whole, the writer achieves this with a few questionable moments that would make me hesitate in recommending this to younger readers.

Hurst follows the adventures of a band of survivors who have based themselves in a relatively secure Tudor castle on the south coast of England. However, they are just one of many such groups competing for dwindling resources whilst trying to protect themselves from the flu-like virus that has decimated the population. Every encounter, it seems, is destined to end in bloodshed or near disaster, ensuring that a good pace is maintained. Perhaps, though, there is a lack of subtlety which weakens the narrative; the reader expects terrible things to happen, so the element of surprise is absent.

While the strength of the book is the flow of the storyline which, while never taking you anywhere new, maintains your interest throughout, the weakness is that there are too many main characters to keep track of and get to know. This does seem to hamper character development, and in crucial parts of the book the reader’s emotional attachment is limited; I did care about what happened, but more time spent developing the stronger characters, and avoiding stereotypes, would have drawn me in more.

Overall, I did enjoy reading the book and I suspect it will appeal to a number of teen readers. But throughout I rarely shook off the feeling that I was reading a work in progress; a number of aspects could be improved upon and would greatly benefit from a more critical edit. I suspect that some parts of the story could be removed completely, allowing time for proper character development and, thereby, greater audience engagement.

Publisher: Novatum Group
Length: 384 pages
Buy the book here