Friday, September 27, 2013

The Loners (Quarantine): a review

Author: Lex Thomas
Info: EgmontUSA, copyright 2012, 416 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Lord of the Flies meets Walter Hill's The Warriors in a dark and rather disturbing dystopia about plague and human behavior.

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.

~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown
Maybe the worst first day of school...ever.  David and Will have just arrived at McKinley High when a terrible explosion demolishes an entire wing of the building.  Within seconds, David watches a teacher bleed profusely and die right in front of him.  Of course there is a moment of pure chaos and mayhem as the student body desperately tries to leave the building.  But a large military force is waiting just outside the doors, driving them back inside the school walls.  Something has gone terribly wrong.  Left to fend for themselves, the school body becomes a warped, disturbing community of gangs fighting for power and resources, all the while wondering what in the world is going on.

The Awesome
An interesting look at human behavior.  Really.  I think the last place I would want to be, if I am ever one day held hostage because of plague, is a high school.  These teens attempting to survive are extremely creative, terrifyingly manipulative, and despite being a bit insane, violently interesting.

The Not So Awesome
Despite being interesting, it is a bit unbelievable.  While I agree there would be a certain amount of chaos, would teenagers really crumble into such disarray?  Maybe.  They are very selfish creatures (and I say this lovingly) and self-preservation would kick in, but this seems over the top.  Teenagers are resilient, caring creatures that I like to believe, when push comes to shove, would embrace their humanity and word together toward a common good.

So back to my connection with Walter Hill's The Warriors. "In 1979 a charismatic leader summons the street gangs of New York City in a bid to take it over. When he is killed, The Warriors are falsely blamed and now must fight their way home while every other gang is hunting them down to kill them."  The Warriors are up a creep, blamed for murder and several city blocks away from home.  They battle The Orphans, The Baseball Furies, and The Lizzies, but in the end, they pull together and make it home.

David and Will have a flurry of gangs standing between them and survival.  It's won't be easy and time is not on their side, but for a thrilling, terrifying adventure, check out The Loners: Quarantine by Lex Thomas.

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