AUTHOR: Bethany Wiggins
PUBLISHER: Walker Children’s
PUBLICATION DATE: April 2, 2013
GIVE IT TO: HS sci-fi fans
SUMMARY: Fiona remembers her 13th birthday, but when she wakes up in her own bed at age 17, she remembers nothing in between. Her house is crumbling and dusty, her parents are nowhere in sight, and her twin brother has turned to a monster and is chasing her. Fiona barely escapes only to find that the whole world has gone mad–food and water are scarce, the militia has taken over, and some people she knows have turned into horrible beasts.
WHAT I LIKED: For the first few chapters, I was riveted–what a great premise! It’s kind of like Sleeping Beauty woke up four years later to crazy chaos and confusion. I love that the reader learns what is going on in small pieces, just as Fiona learns about it.
The world-building is well-done but has holes. People hiding and starving in sewers under the city streets would certainly be dirty, smelly, and absolutely desperate. Once-majestic office buildings are now crumbling and have been busted-up, looted, and abandoned. It’s every man, woman, and beast for himself, so fear and violence are a huge part of daily life. While there are some plot holes (keep reading), I could mostly picture this horrible world and the desperate people who live there.
Contrary to the tagline (“There is no cure for being stung.”), I love the idea that all these problems came not from bee stings, but from the man-made vaccine designed to protect people from the bee virus. I liked Bowen’s strength and determination to protect Fiona at all costs. Fiona is a damsel-in-distress, which is a bit annoying at times, but in this case, it works for the story and her character. Fiona is not a strong character–she did just wake up to all this–and that is completely realistic for a girl thrust suddenly into a chaotic, life-or-death situation.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: About 75 pages from the end, I abandoned the book. So what happened? Well, despite lots of action and run-for-your-life sequences, pretty much nothing. Fiona runs with her former neighbor (now a soldier trying to protect her) from place to place. They fire guns, tasers, fight, fight, fight, but ultimately, there is very little character development or relationship-building after those first few chapters. There is insta-love after only a few days on the run, which is nearly always the kiss of death for me. For some reason (maybe explained later in the book, after I had abandoned?), there is only one female to every seven males, which makes most of the males out to rape and kill the females. What happened to all the females? Were they more susceptible to the bee virus or its vaccine?
I also kept feeling like I had missed something. I’d be reading, then Bowen and Fiona would suddenly be in a new place or talking to a new character, and I’d be like, “Hey, when did that happen? Who is this person?” Or, I’d be reading and they’d be talking to someone who I thought was bad (Tommy), and they would seem like they were friends with that person. He was helping them all of a sudden. It was the same with Arrin–she’d be good and helpful one minute, then stabbing them in the back the next minute, then back to being helpful. I get that people are complex and not all good or all bad; it just happened so quickly and without transition. Maybe I was just reading too fast (I was just ready to be done with it), but it happened quite a bit.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A great premise and exciting opening chapters, but ultimately, I got bored and was left scratching my head at times.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: On order. I ordered it when I first started reading it, so I am hoping my students will like it better than I did. The publisher’s trailer is excellent, and it should be pretty easy to book talk. I didn’t like Matched so much, either, and look how that turned out!
READALIKES: Slated (Terry)
- Overall: abandoned (unfair to rate overall)
- Creativity: 3/5
- Characters: 2/5
- Engrossing: 1/5–I was BORED for most of the story
- Writing: 2/5–abrupt scene transition
- Appeal to teens: 3/5–there are lots of great post-apoc stories to choose from–why choose this one?
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 2/5–it’s not terribly long, but again, I was bored
- Language: very mild; a couple of hells
- Sexuality: medium–reference to possibility of rape; rape is a real threat; some kissing and admiration of male chest; breast-binding (nothing sexual or graphic)
- Violence: high; characters get shot with bullets and tasers; lots of blood; characters carry and frequently use guns, tasers, knives
- Drugs/Alcohol: none other than the bee virus vaccine