by Ilsa J. Bick
It could happen tomorrow...
A cataclysmic event. An army of "The Changed."
Can one teen really survive on her own?
An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky, destroying every electronic device and killing billions. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human...
Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the Changed, Alex meets up with Tom---a young army veteran---and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse.
This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to survive.
Published: September 6th 2011 by EgmontUSA
Let's start with my absolute gut reaction: This book scared the shit out of me. I read the first half of the book late at night and actually had some trouble falling asleep. I'm not big on scary stories, being a wuss and all, and I'm a bit too crazy with far too much imagination to be up alone, listening for things in the dark. All manner of nasties inhabit the dark that comes when you put down a scary book and turn off the light. It's the kind of dark that not even turning the light back on can scare off. The next morning I carried the book smack out into the noon day sun and read it where everything around me was well illuminated. So that's my advice to you: Read it outside, midday, in a big open space, and bring a shovel.
It's a fact universally acknowledged that nothing can protect you from a zombie attack like a really sharp shovel.
Now, why was this so scary? Well, think about all the dystopian you've been reading here lately...what have they all had in common? For the most part, they are all stories of drastic changes in the world and how society has changed because of them. They take place in the future and usually involve elements that wouldn't quit figure into our everyday lives as they are now. You can say "Oh dearie me, I do so hope the world doesn't end up like that!" and go about your day safe in the knowledge that no Capitol exists to throw you into an arena, no laws are in place forcing women to breed, people are still marginally human with only a few of us being Borg, water isn't overly rationed, and the ability to love hasn't been surgically removed from your brain. Yet...
But weapons of mass destruction, melting nuclear reactors, and the electromagnetic pulse that is generated by the explosion of a nuclear bomb are all very real and the apocalypse that they could bring, could happen at any time.
I was absolutely terrified both for and with Alex. After the explosion only the very young or the elderly appear to have been wholly spared from the effects of The Change, a condition that resulted from the explosion that left the majority of the world's population either dead or crazy, wild and hungry for animal flesh. Any animal flesh.
Alex falls smack dab in the midst of the age group that was most affected by The Change and yet she, and a few others like her were spared. Alex's brain doesn't function the way most do...Alex has a growing, inoperable brain tumor. Talk about insult to injury. When the event happens, Alex, who has decided that she doesn't want to go through another round of cancer treatments, has gone on an extended hike into the mountains to tie up a few loose ends. Alone, she carries with her one secret thing that she holds most dear, a task that needs to be completed, and her father's gun. You can almost argue that the explosion that ended the known world, and having to save a stranded eight year old girl from blood thirsty flesh eaters- saved her life.
So now we have a realistic, catastrophic event, a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world, and just when you think it can't get any worse, when one would like to believe in the strength of humanity, that our morals and beliefs and sense of justice would prevail when the very worst has happened- it turns out the only thing you can count on is man's instinct to survive at any cost and the lengths we would go to save ourselves.
I've never enjoyed being scared stupid so much in my life. Bick is a marvelous story teller- the action never once eases off and when you turn the last page you're absolutely exhausted both physically and emotionally. The details and the research put into this novel alone deserves major props. It's unlike any YA dystopian novel out there and your brain is going to be forced to work while you read it. And you want to read it.
Plus five points for Zombies. God I love zombies.