The chilling cover sure does build up hype for Lorentz’s trilogy opener. In fact, my book has a quote from Seventeen.com comparing it to The Hunger Games! The cover definitely caught my eye and the premise of the book made me buy it immediately. But did it really hold up to its hype? Well… yes and no.
The story is about a biological bomb being discovered in the bowels of a shopping mall, causing all of the citizens in the mall to be quarantined for an indefinite amount of time. The events from then on are told through the perspectives of four teens, Marco, Lexi, Ryan, and Shay. All four of these teens are from different backgrounds, and Lorentz does a fairly good job presenting the different cultures and mindsets of the teens. I did enjoy the story, and the ending definitely made me excited to read the next, but the drawbacks of this book are very pronounced and need to be discussed.
If you’re someone like me who has knowledge of pathology, particularly how the Center for Disease Control operates during an epidemic (or in this case with an intentionally released pathogen), then this book is very… underwhelming. More often than not, the story is focusing on the social lives of the teens rather than on the crisis at hand. The teens are very delusional, believing they will be let out sooner or later, and because most of them do not know about the bomb at first, this is understandable. But once the information about the pathogen is released, the people act in ways that are frustrating to say the least. People want to get out, even if they have been exposed. As someone who knows how viruses work, I know this is a very stupid idea and I almost feel it’s blatantly obvious how dangerous such an action would be towards the community. But maybe that’s just me nitpicking. Either way, the story did not actually focus on the possible impending doom so much as who gets to hang out with the cute girl more. If you’re someone who would enjoy that, then yes you should read this. But for people who are very interested in pathology, this book can get a bit frustrating.
Now I’m not saying the book is bad. It’s not. In fact, it’s really good. The writing is fairly well done, and I like the characters. It’s an easy read and I got through the 300-ish pages in a weekend because I was genuinely interested in the fates of everyone. Of course, as it is an opening to a trilogy, the end has a frustrating cliffhanger that makes you want to get your hands on the next book immediately. But like I said, the setbacks for me were very pronounced, and most of the action I was looking forward to occurred at the end. Honestly, comparing this book to The Hunger Games sets too high of expectations for the book’s action level. You could feel Katniss’s desperation and the danger in every chapter, but this book simply does not provide that. Overall, if you feel compelled to read it, then you should. I just don’t think you’ll be going back for a second or third time.