The Low Down: Just your typical first day of high school…first, David has no desire to face his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend (the one he beat up over the weekend); second, he finds out he is in the wrong classroom of their brand-new, huge school; third, there’s an enormous explosion; fourth, his teacher (literally) coughs up a lung on him and dies; and fifth, any kid that tries to leave the building is shot down by the soldiers that encircle the school. But at least there’s no homework, right?
Some kids were killed in the explosion; some are killed afterwards in a panic. And once they have been there for a while, the gangs form. Varsity. Pretty Ones. Freaks. Geeks. Sluts. Nerds. Skaters. All levels of teen society are represented. But what about the loners? After David’s Mom died in a car crash, he sort of fell apart. The star quarterback, he abandons the team during the playoffs. His girlfriend, Hilary, decides that his refusal to pull it together means she needs to move on – to the new quarterback, Sam. David promised his brother, Will, that he’d look after him now that he’s started high school. Will’s on medication for seizures, but they are controlled.
The whole (what’s left of it) school is in quarantine. The adolescents are carrying the virus, and it will kill any child or adult who they come into contact with. As the seniors move out of adolescence, they have to be removed or they go crazy and die. David and Will try to hang on together. But when David saves Lucy, a former Pretty One, from being attacked by Brad, a Varsity, and Brad is accidentally killed, Sam is out for David’s head. Just when David thinks it’s over, the Loners pull together and form their own gang. David regains his sense of purpose while leading the group of misfits.
But one day the door that releases the “cured” students does not work, and after the riot and melee that follows, the door is closed for good. The older students are left to die, the food drops cease and David realizes that his time may soon be up.
Best Thang ‘Bout It: I think this is exactly how everyone imagines things would go down if the students took over. It was a tautly written tale that had a lot of realistic scenes. I appreciate, too, that the authors caused tremors in the relationship between David and Will as well.
I’m Cranky Because: I know, for the sake of the story, it had to be done this way, but I had a very hard time believing that there was no communication between the students and their parents. No letters, no cell phones worked, no Internet. Plus there was no communication at first for a long time as to what happened, and minimal after that. There had to be someone on the outside trying to help these kids. I hope that will be addressed in Book 2?
Should You?: Yes, but only if you can handle a lot of violence, gore and disturbing images.
Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas was published on July 10, 2012 by EgmontUSA.
Genre: Young Adult SciFi Dystopian
Ages: 14 and up