Saturday, July 13, 2013

Review: Quarantine: The Loners and Quarantine: The Saints by Lex Thomas

Quarantine: the Loners Summary (courtesy of Goodreads):  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.

Quarantine: the Saints Summary:  A cross between the Gone series and Lord of the Flies, Quarantine #2: The Saints continues this frenetically paced and scary young adult series that illustrates just how deadly high school can be.

Nothing was worse than being locked in—until they opened the door...
McKinley High has been a battle ground for eighteen months since a virus outbreak led to a military quarantine of the school. When the doors finally open, Will and Lucy will think their nightmare is finished. But they are gravely mistaken.

As a new group of teens enters the school and gains popularity, Will and Lucy join new gangs. An epic party on the quad full of real food and drinks, where kids hookup and actually interact with members of other gangs seemed to signal a new, easier existence. Soon after though, the world inside McKinley takes a startling turn for the worse, and Will and Lucy will have to fight harder than ever to survive.

And here's what I thought:   I've read the Gone books by Michael Grant, where kids are on their own, so I was intrigued by the premise of these books.   I wound up whipping through the first one, and then picking up the second book right away because I wanted to know what happened to the characters.   Like, right now.

I think the summary which says these books are "a cross between the Gone series and Lord of the Flies" is a good way of putting it.   Whether or not the reason for these kids being locked in a school is plausible or not, the real focus is on the kids, and how they deal with their situation and each other.   The different social cliques forming into gangs is a realistic idea, and I like that the authors don't flinch from making some of this pretty tense, and a little scary.  In some real high schools, it can feel dangerous if you're not part of a social group --- these books just take that further, and ramp it up.

There is a definite tension throughout the first book, which continues right into the second book, and the fast pace makes this feel pretty seamless.   Our main characters in the first book, brothers Will and David, are compelling characters, and I like that their relationship has some strain here and there -- because it makes it more realistic (and also allows for more story development).   The female characters in the first book are definitely secondary, although Lucy's character becomes more developed in the second book, which I liked --- it gives the story a bit more balance.

As I mentioned, the authors (Lex Thomas is actually two authors writing together) don't shy away from the gritty, or the occasionally gory.   These kids are in serious survival mode, so don't expect that they're going to mind their manners and treat each other decently.   I didn't mind this, as it makes sense, the way the story is set up.  I also like that the authors don't have a magic solution handy --- as you can see from the summary of the second book, no one has come to save these kids and cure them and make everything perfect.

PLEASE NOTE:  I will have a GIVEAWAY for both of these books coming up!!!

First lines from the first book:  Someone must have bitten off her nose.  David remembered her.  Julie Tanaka.  She used to be gorgeous.  He'd spent an entire semester of biology class fantasizing about her.  She was perpetually tan and had a physique that always rendered David speechless.  But now she looked like an old sewer rat.  The tip of her nose was gone, like a piece of string cheese with the end chomped off.


Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

Oh, I've never heard of these before, Jo! I read GONE, as well, and I liked it quite a bit, so perhaps the same will be true for these? I sure hope so! Wonderful reviews :)

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