Dragging a corpse across the school was nasty business. But at least the effort kept the nagging questions at bay. What happened to them that day? Why did it happen? And what was going to happen to them next?
David is a used-to-be-popular ex-football-quarterback whose recent demotion in the social standings end up meaning far more than just having to sit alone at lunchtime. When an airborne virus infects his high school — killing all of the adults and forcing the students into a military quarantine — David is left with just his brother, Will, by his side to fight the upheaval that ensues. Cliques form into violent, territorial gangs that fight each other for food and supplies. Things start to look up when David and Will join with other outsiders to form their own gang — the Loners — but new and old rivalries get in the way and danger lurks around every corner.
This book is part Hunger Games, part Michael Grant’s “Gone” series, and part Lord of the Flies. If you can get past the gratuitous violence and unnecessary sexual content (yes, I know it’s a YA novel with a guy as the main character, but we don’t really need to go there, do we?), you’re in for a heart-pounding, gut-wrenching, brutally in-your-face, down-and-dirty rollercoaster ride. The author does a great job of describing the world within the confines of McKinley High School — you can feel the grime, the disrepair, the dinginess as you’re reading. The characters were believable (with a few exceptions), and the protagonist, David, was someone you found yourself rooting for (well, eventually).
There were some parts that I thought didn’t get a proper lead-up. Important events would happen, and I would nearly miss it — for instance, when a bomb hits and a teacher literally hacks up a lung in front of David, I had to go back and re-read the page, wondering “HUH? What just happened!?”
There were also some things that just seemed a bit illogical. The virus was supposed to leave the body of teenagers after puberty (only the pheromones were fatal to adults), but this seemed to happen quite systematically ONLY to seniors, not taking into consideration that puberty covers a wide age range and can take some people — guys especially — until they’re well into their twenties. Also, cutting off communication to the outside seemed like too much of a unrealistic plot device — the hundreds of parents of these kids wouldn’t find some way to send their kids letters? Maybe something will be revealed in later books that will explain this, but it seemed rather unlikely.
And then there’s the love triangle. Let’s just suffice it to say that I really wasn’t a fan of Lucy, and the fact that she was the ONLY female character that wasn’t either borderline insane or incredibly promiscuous made me like her less, not more.
In all, it’s a very raw book — definitely a “pass” for those that aren’t up for a lot of violence and gore, but also one that has a certain horror-movie intensity that some may find compelling, and find it hard to turn away.