Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas

Book:  Quarantine:  The Loners
Author:  Lex Thomas
Publisher:  Egmont USA
Date:  July 10, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  B+

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.  (cover and description from www.goodreads.com)


Initial reaction
Lord of the Flies much?

Title and Cover
My copy has “Quaranteen” as the spelling for the title, but apparently, they have changed that.  ::shrugs::  I kind of liked it.  It was a clever little play on the word that worked.  Otherwise, the title is basic and tells you what the book is about and once you are finished reading, you will understand “The Loners” part.  The cover is alright.  It basically goes along with the plot of the book and I think it has a lot of boy appeal.  Which is probably the audience this book is aiming at.

Plot, characters, etc.
I liked this book a lot.  I thought it was an interesting premise, if perhaps a bit far-fetched.  There is a kid who escapes from a research facility who is infected with a disease that kills children and adults but not adolescents.  He runs to the high school and the military decides that they need to bomb the high school to try and kill the kid.  They fail, so all the teachers and adults in the building die these gruesome deaths and then they lock all the remaining students into the building.  This is where the book really picks up and tells the story of the students quarantined inside the building.

This book made me think of Lord of the Flies, just in a contemporary high school setting.  It was the ultimate Mean Girls story!  It was fairly violent and gruesome.  This is not a book for those who cannot handle death, gore and violence.  I really think it is aimed at the adolescent boy audience, but I still enjoyed it.  It was a fast-paced, on-the-edge-of-your-seat read.  I stayed up until 4:30 a.m. to finish it just because I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.

I really liked David, the main character.  In fact, David is the only thing that gave me any hope for the future of humankind in this novel!  He is a basic good guy and he stays that way throughout the novel.  While so many of the kids go totally savage, David does his best to remain human and civilized while caring for he and his brother.  Will, his brother, is not quite as likeable, but he is a younger adolescent, so he is fairly representative of a whiny freshman boy. : )

So why the B+ for a book that kept me up all night reading?  Because there were some hokey parts to this book that I just had a hard time suspending disbelief for.  I can believe that the kids would go all savage.  I could even believe that they would form gangs based on high school cliques.  However, I had a hard time buying some of the other parts of this gang system.  Trading for necessary items made sense, but how did all the Pretty Girls (known as the Pretty Ones) know how to use dropped supplies and scavenged items to make perfumes and make-up?  And why would anyone want to trade food to go see the theatre kids perform?  It seems to me that if the kids are reverting back to a more savage human existence, these things would fall by the wayside as well.  And then they were all using stuff to dye their hair these different colors so that you could tell which gang they belonged to.  I don’t know.  I just had a hard time with that part of the book.

The story itself was pretty gripping and I really started to feel something for quite a few of the characters.  Some of them, like Sam, I absolutely hated.  He was really the worst of humanity and I felt that what he did was probably realistic in this sort of stressful situation.  If they had only gotten rid of some of that over-the-top marketplace stuff, this book would have been an A+ for me.  As it is, I will definitely be looking forward to the sequel.  I’m hoping that the author will answer a lot of questions about the outside world and what is happening in the next book.


This book needed some kick-butt rock songs, so here they are!

Dark Horses by Switchfoot

This song seemed like a perfect fit because it's all about survival.

Until the End by Breaking Benjamin

Pulse of the Maggots by Slipknot

It’s kind of creepy how this song fits this book.

The Final Grade
My grade for this book is a B+.  The story was killer and I couldn’t put it down, but there were some world-building issues that really bothered while I read, so I just couldn’t give it an A.  But I’ll definitely be back for the next installment.

Thank you to Egmont and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book.  I received no compensation for my honest review, not even a food drop every 2 weeks.

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