Disclaimer: I read the advanced reader's copy (ARC) of this book; this book was released on July 29, 2014. Undoubtedly, there will be minor changes between the version I read and the published version. I picked up the ARC at the 2014 ALA Conference.
To get back into reading after my horrendous encounter with Mortal Heart (which I won't even link to because NO), I had to take on something that was pretty straight forward.
Pleasantly, this book was pretty straight forward. It's the post-apocalyptic world where many of the kids (roughly ages 0-9) and everyone over 18 has died.
It's like Lord of the Flies with an adrenaline rush.
I don't know. Have an amazon summary! ""Chris Weitz has made a beautiful transition from writing and directing films to novels. The Young World is populated with characters you won't forget and a story as fresh and urgent asDivergent."--James Patterson, #1 NY Times bestselling author of Maximum Ride.
Welcome to New York, a city ruled by teens.
After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he's secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos.
But when a fellow tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure for the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip, exchanging gunfire with enemy gangs, escaping cults and militias, braving the wilds of the subway--all in order to save humankind.
This first novel from acclaimed film writer/director Chris Weitz is the heart-stopping debut of an action-packed trilogy." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE
Fair warning, the book has two narrators; Jefferson and Donna. If you've read past blog posts of mine, you know how I feel about this setup. (This is not a spoiler.)
Much of the beginning of the book is describing the sickness, how the world once was, how it sank into the decrepit despair that it is today, and how much kids didn't realize how good they once had it. Pretty run of the mill, show the reader how demented the world has become. There isn't anything particularly shocking or new in this mix if you've read a post apocalyptic, young adult book before.
Moving on to the unique plot.
So Jefferson and Donna live in Washington Square with a band of other kids as they squeak out a semblance of life in the decaying ruins of what the world once was. Jefferson's older brother is just about to turn 18 and is passing the reigns of leadership over to his kid brother. There's an odd encounter with some hostiles who want to trade a pig for women, but Jefferson's older brother shoots the pig and the hostiles walk away with a promise of revenge. Everybody has pig, it's amazing, yay pig. Party with terse looks and wondering at the future for everybody.
Once Jefferson's older brother turns 18, he comes down with the sickness. He goes from healthy to dying in about a day or two before he's dead. As he's dying, Jefferson and Donna keep him company. There narrations are interesting in that they kind of show the same sides of Jefferson with different memories. Once he's dead, Jefferson is elected leader of their tribe.
Jefferson has come to realize that they're foraging and food is starting to yield lower and lower results; soon they'll have to move the tribe or hope a cure is found.
Jefferson's friend "brainy" who is a wicked smart genius (as the book repeatedly tells you and shows you at every opportunity) thinks he can find a lead on the cure if they can get to the library downtown. Jefferson agrees, Donna insists on coming along, Donna's friend also comes along, and soon the truck is underway. Little did they know they had a stowaway (a girl who has a crush on Brainy), and they start running into all sorts of trouble as they make their way through the city.
Now, there were some interesting and different things that have developed in this post apocalyptic world, but it wasn't enough for this to feel like a unique novel. PLUS, I find it terrible that the author tempered Jefferson's narration with the hardships of everything he's gone through, while Donna's was left as a brooding, angst ridden, but will try to get the job done sort of character. There wasn't a lot within the narrators that felt like an authentic reflection of how they would have changed due to most of Earth's population being dead.
Other than that, it seemed like an action movie in a book form, but still lacking a lot of plot elements that would make sense to drive the book onward. The narrators were reacting to everything in their environment without having a really clear destination in mind for most of the book.
[SPOILER] Plus the romance between Donna and Jefferson felt really forced on both of their parts. Like, "It's the end of the world, I've like known you forever, so we should be like, in love right?" And that was mostly from Jefferson. [/sigh, SPOILER FIN]
So, I might pick up the second book depending on how many books I have stacked up when it comes out, but it's looking a bit unlikely at this point.