Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 24th 2012
It starts with an itch you just can't shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you'll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in.
And then you're dead.
When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying goodbye, she never dreams that she might not see him again. But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike. As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back.
Those still healthy must fight for the island’s dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.
Because how will she go on if there isn't?
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!