Let me first say I am a huge fan of dystopian reads and am quite critical of every one that passes my way. But I really loved this book despite the fact I thought it was going to be like every other virus/quarantine novel I’d read. What really helped me enjoy it was the way it was written as a letter to a friend the entire way through, recounting what happened AS it happened. Kaelyn’s daily writing to her friend Leo begins as normally as any 15 year old girl would who would be writing to her friend who has gone to live somewhere else, but soon turns to daily accounts of what’s happening on the island she lives on as things start to take a turn for the worse.
When Kaelyn’s friend Rachel’s father starts acting strangely, then is rushed to the hospital – Kaelyn’s father, who works in medical research starts working long hours. Then Rachel is missing from school a few days later. Kaelyn’s father admits that there are a few “odd” cases he’s been working on. Kaelyn writes in her journal to Leo about the symptoms : first an itch that won’t go away, then sneezing, then acting very sociable and outgoing – then delusional. The final symptom? Death.
Things start to go a bit sideways for Kaelyn – and the rest of the island around her — when she finds out that both Rachel and her father have died. The government start quarantining the island from the mainland, which incites some people in her community to riot. Her uncle Emmett is shot at the docks where workers are trying to deliver some supplies. Kaelyn begins to watch herself – and her family members around her – carefully for any signs of the illness. Suddenly her mother is sick – and Kaelyn has to hold on to the belief that it WILL get better in order to get through day to day.
I found Kaelyn’s voice in this book to be so unique in the way of conveying the story through writing “letters” to her friend that had moved away. It was a really refreshing way of telling a tale. Kaelyn is also a strong, confident, and sometimes stubborn girl – she refuses to lose hope even when the circumstances are the most dire. She tries to help out in any way no matter how small a task – whether it’s helping out at the hospital with the sick or watching out for her younger cousin Meredith. She is also quick to action when it comes to defending what’s hers or what she thinks is right.
And then there is Gav. He shows up amongst a ragtag group of guys whom Kaelyn thinks is stealing food to stockpile for themselves – when in all actuality he and his friend organize a way of distributing the food to the entire island for the people who are in need. He’s a generous, independent guy who Kaelyn can’t help falling for – and I’m glad she does. It will be so interesting to see where their relationship goes in the next few books.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s fast paced, dangerous at times, and exactly what one would want in a first in a series. The ending keeps you wanting more, guessing what could possibly happen next. Megan Crewe really has a winner on her hands!
Like many authors, Megan Crewe finds writing about herself much more difficult than making things up. A few definite facts: she lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and three cats (and does on occasion say “eh”), she works as a behavioral therapist for children and teens with special needs, and she’s spent the last four years studying kung fu, so you should probably be nice to her. She has been making up stories about magic and spirits and other what ifs since before she knew how to write words on paper. These days the stories are just a lot longer.
Megan’s first novel, the young adult paranormal Give Up the Ghost, was published by Henry Holt & Co. in 2009 and nominated for the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. She has most recently released the young adult post-apocalyptic Fallen World trilogy, published by Disney-Hyperion, made up of The Way We Fall (2012), The Lives We Lost (2013), and The Worlds We Make (2014). The Way We Fall was shortlisted for OLA’s White Pine Award and made the International Reading Association’s Young Adults’ Choices Reading List.
In October 2014 Megan will be starting a new science fiction trilogy titled Earth & Sky, with Amazon Skyscape and Razorbill Canada. She has also published short stories in magazines such as On Spec and Brutarian Quarterly.
Visit her online at www.megancrewe.com.