Author: Lex Thomas
Publisher: Egmont USA
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Genre: YA Dystopian
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.
A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you’re as good as dead. And David has no gang. It’s just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school.
In this frighteningly dark and captivating novel, Lex Thomas locks readers inside a school where kids don’t fight to be popular, they fight to stay alive.
I was asked to review the 2nd book in this series and EgmontUSA was kind enough to send me this book as well so I wouldn't be lost reading the 2nd one. I am glad I did because this is an excellent series, but you do need to start with this book to fully comprehend what's going on.
David and Will are headed to school, a brand new high school actually and it's a pretty big school. Definitely bigger than anything around here where I live. It's Will's first day of High School, but David is an old pro. He was one of the popular kids at one time, QB of the football team, hot cheerleader girlfriend, etc... He's not the same kid he was a year ago though. Their mother died and a little part of David died with her. He quit the team and just before school started again he discovered his girlfriend has been cheating on him with one of his former teammates. Things are already looking down for him, then he gets to school and things literally explode. One whole wing of the new school is gone, the teachers are all dying, the students have no idea what is going on. Later they learn that they have been infected with something that makes the adults around them die. Once they transition out of puberty the infection leaves their system and they are harmless again. For now, though, they are sealed inside the school with no way out.
This reminds me a little of The Hunger Games only on a more frightening scale. These kids are left on their own with no clue whats going on in the outside world. They have no idea if what they are being told is even the truth. They just know that they are trapped and that they have to find a way to survive. Eventually, they get more information, they are given the means to leave when they transition out of puberty so that they don't die once they become "adults". The ones that are left split off and form gangs according to affiliation (Varsity, Pretty Ones, Geeks, Skaters, Sluts, etc...) they are identifiable by their hair color. The virus left them all with white hair a blank canvas for koolaide dye which they get from the supply drops that come through a constructed "tear" in the ceiling of the quad.
David and Will are not part of a gang, they are considered scraps. The scraps are kids that are outcasts or chose not to be a part of the other gangs. The problem is that when the drops come they are on their own and it's pretty much a free for all situation. One gang in particular is ruthless at the drops, they end up hoarding supplies and generally making life miserable for everyone else. Each gang has a trade, per se, that they take to the "Market Place" after the drops. This is where the kids barter what they have for what they need. Long story short, David becomes somewhat of a hero and he ends up leading a whole new group called the Loners. I don't want to give away any more plot so I am going to leave it at that.
This is a dark, bloody somewhat terrifying scenario. The inner workings of this society are, at times, cringe worthy. There are some plot holes and it's wholly unrealistic at times, but hey, what dystopian type novel isn't? The relationship between David and Will is quite realistic. They fight like brothers for sure. I was annoyed by Will for much of the book but that's because he was feeling sorry for himself for most of the book. He finally gets over his pity party and the book is over!
Overall I really enjoyed this book, it's really different from anything I have read recently, for sure! I would recommend this to anyone who likes dystopian novels from a YA perspective. I will say that this book has a lot of violence, some gore, sexual situations or talk of them, talk of rape, lots of cursing including f-bombs. I would probably recommend it for a high school age or higher because of this.
*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*