E-galley received from Netgalley for review.
When I started this galley a few days ago, I thought it was going to take me a long time to read it - at about 400 pages, it's a bit of a long novel. However, I literally couldn't put it down, and when I got to the end I groaned reading that the second book will be published in the summer of 2013. I need more now! I can't wait more than a year to know what happens next! Damn you, series!
It's the first day of school for brothers David and Will, when an explosion destroys part of their high school and a deadly virus is unleashed on the building. It affects teenagers experiencing puberty, making them lethal for adults and small children. All the teachers die instantly. The army quarantines the school, prevents anyone from coming out, and establishes regular food drops. Inside the school, teenagers are left to fend for themselves.
The different cliques turn into violent gangs: Varsity, the Freaks, the Nerds, the Geeks, the Skaters, and the Pretty Ones. Varsity and their girlfriends, the Pretty Ones, are the most powerful because they're composed of former athletes and cheerleaders. A gang provides protection and more chances to get food to its members. David and Will, however, don't belong to any gang and survive providing a sort of landry service.
When David sees a helpless girl molested by a Varsity member, he doesn't hesitate to help her and ends up killing the boy. Now all of Varsity wants David's head. Will he and Will manage to survive?
I found this novel totally brilliant. Comparisons with Lord of the Flies by William Gibson and the Gone series by Michael Grant come to mind (again, marketing claims it's similar to The Hunger Games; is every dystopian YA book going to be compared to Suzanne Collins' series now?). It's brutal and violent, but also features a love triangle (very nicely done) and has you biting your nails until the very last page, wondering if our hero is going to make it. For the last third of the book, I almost feared he wouldn't make it (even though I knew it was highly implausible; how would the series continue without the main character?)
As for the characters, I loved David and Lucy. I also sympathized with Will, even though his actions weren't always recommendable. It certainly isn't easy living in your big brother's shadow.
The book ends with a pretty big cliffhanger that brings a huge change to the students' situation. I'm very curious to see how the authors (because "Lex Thomas" is actually a writing duo) will develop things from now on. And yes, I can't believe we need to wait at least a year before we find out what happens next!
I'd recommend this novel to fans of dystopian and adventure novels. The love triangle aspect isn't overdone, so you can read this safely even if you aren't into romance. This would be a good book for boys, I think. Cover attraction:
creepy. It conveys the feel of the book perfectly - trying to survive in a school half destroyed, half abandoned.