`Rebirth' is the sequel to Michael Poeltl's debut novel `The Judas Syndrome' (2009). I'm not surprised that he wrote a follow-up, because the ending practically begged for continuation. But I was also wary, because sequels can be like designer knockoffs- compelling in their own way, but rarely as good as the original.
`Rebirth' continues the dark saga of a teenaged band of post-apocalypse survivors. Narrated by Sara, Joel's girlfriend, it fluidly resumes where `The Judas Syndrome' left off. Crises that erupted at the conclusion of the previous book have such disastrous consequences that Sara's new fight for life exceeds all past conflicts. This time the stakes are higher: she has given birth to Joel's son, and paranormal influences indicate that the boy has a vital destiny to fulfill. But treacherous former friends, roaming killers, and other grim remnants of a dead world assail them both, making it possible that they won't even see tomorrow, let alone the infant's adulthood.
I agree with another reviewer that `Rebirth' is gentler in tone than `The Judas Syndrome', but the core themes of courage, desperation, and hope remain strong. Putting Sara in the figurative pilot's seat has not resulted in a piece of post-bomb chick lit; because she has so much to live for, she's just as ruthless as her male associates when she has to be, and her actions keep the storyline gritty and fast.
Fans of the first book will find much to enjoy in this second, exciting offering from Michael Poeltl. The dreaded `curse of the crappy sequel' definitely doesn't apply here.
(reviewed the day of purchase)