Well, I've been digesting this book for quite a while now. And I'm still not quite sure what I think about it. It's one of those books that I thought was very good, but it was just missing something and I'm not sure what. I wish Goodreads allowed half-stars because I'd probably give this one more like a 4.5. But anyway, time to review.A long time ago, I saw this book on a list of good zombie-apocalypse books and thought it looked somewhat interesting but didn't feel particularly compelled to read it. I'm not really into zombie books; I'm rather squeamish and all the rotting-flesh and eating-people is not pleasing to my stomach. So, I intended to read it eventually but I didn't feel particularly motivated to do so. Then one of my friends read it and told me that I must must must read it straightaway, so that bumped it up on my to-read list. And about a week after she recommended it, I got it from the library.I was more intrigued by the back of the book––not necessarily the summary on the back, but the comments. One comment said something about how Alden Bell has created "a beautiful zombie apocalypse book" ... Beautiful zombie apocalypse? You don't see that description every day. And I didn't think such a thing was possible.Well, it is.First of all, Bell's writing is something special. He is merciless in his descriptions of violence and gore––and although I typically hate that kind of stuff, there was indeed something ironically beautiful about it. Don't get me wrong; this book isn't all about violence, but in a zombie book of course there's going to be some bloodshed. But Bell doesn't focus solely on the blood-and-guts aspect; he balances the violence with beautiful imagery as well, and this gives the story more of a hopeful point of view.What really makes the story compelling, though, is the main character, Temple. Yes, she has a weird name and an elusive age––at first I thought she was 12-ish, then I thought she was an adult, although finally it was determined she was a teenager (I think 16 or 17? Don't remember). But she's one of the strongest female leads I've seen in a book in ages. I wouldn't say this is a YA book, although I think a lot of teenagers could/should read it (as long as they can handle the violence, language, sex, etc.). And compared to the whiny/needy female characters in so much YA fiction nowadays, Temple is quite a standout. And it's not just because of her brave and independent nature. Even as far as kick-ass female characters go, she's different because you can tell Alden Bell put a lot of thought into creating her. She's far from being a perfect person; she makes a lot of rather poor decisions, and it's clear she's sad and lonely under her tough exterior (Bell shows this very well rather than telling it, I might add). But this makes her a more realistic and relatable character. Her backstory is painful and compelling and adds to the book's over all message about strength and redemption.But where Temple is a very strong character, I felt that most of the characters weren't as compelling. Maybe it's just because they paled in comparison. But also, Temple moves from place to place very often in this book––which adds to her character, but doesn't do much for the other characters since we don't get a chance to get to know them very well. Although perhaps this adds to the "lonely" mood of the book.I won't give away the ending, but I'll say it's not a very happy one. (Although, what else do you expect from a book about the zombie apocalypse?) And I think the ending has a lot to do with my over all opinion of the book. Yes, it's a powerful and well-written ending, but it sort of left me with a feeling of utter hopelessness. I was kind of surprised by the ending, since the whole book seemed to have so much hope in it––which is part of what made it bearable and compelling––and then the hope was crushed in the last few pages. And this leaves the reader wondering, what's the point here? I don't have anything against sad endings, but I believe they have to have a lot of purpose––and in this case, even after contemplating it for a long time, I can't really decide what Bell's intention was.Maybe it's just my personal taste, though. I love dark books, but this one felt a little too dark even for me. Even so, I highly recommend this one for people looking for something very new and different in the zombie/apocalypse/dystopia genre.