I have a reading challenge update coming up later this week, but this title couldn't wait for that. White Horse, by Alex Adams, is a debut novel told in "then" and "now" chapters and the first in a proposed trilogy. Following protagonist Zoe, widow and janitor at a pharmaceutical lab, through "then", we find that someone has broken into her apartment and instead of stealing something, someone has left an ancient sealed jar that terrifies her by its presence and implications to the point that she starts seeing a therapist to deal with the emotional upheaval. The evil she feels that is inside this jar will not be contained even if she doesn't open the jar, and the result is a terrible series of events that leads her to "now", approximately two years later. In "what used to be Italy", Zoe's now traveling toward Greece, avoiding previous civilizations when she can, as they are mostly ghost-towns now. The survivors of a plague, a mere 10% or so of the Earth's population, are not always to be trusted, and Zoe tries to avoid contact when she can. Freedom to choose and a shred of hope are the things she clings to as she makes her way, and as long as she has them, she retains her humanity among the "monsters" who now inhabit the planet. Raw, gritty, powerful.
This is not, I would say, merely for fans of post-apocalyptic fiction--adult readers, if you enjoyed The Hunger Games, I think this is for you. It might be a little too much for most teen readers, though. I read it in two nights, and could not put it down. Now I can't wait for the next installment. Very highly recommended.