This debut novel is a YA post-apocolyptic novel set in a world where global biological war has led to the death of almost everyone on the planet- or at least in America. The story follows Stephen as he tries to survive in this world with his father and the people he may encounter.
I was actually surprised in some ways with this book because I didn't really like the cover and kind of expected it to be clichéd or the same science-fiction end-of-the-world scenario. Boy was I wrong! I was gripped throughout this book and even though I wasn't in love with the ending, it was in general brilliant at keeping the story moving and myself interested.
The main events of the plot happen fairly quickly, and in some ways you can guess as to where it is going. Yet the action is fluid and keeps coming so you never feel bored with events. Trying to survive in this world is emphasised as being extremely difficult, so it makes sense that Stephen and everyone else is so on edge so much of the time. I like the small division between him and his father too since it is so believable ands makes sure their is conflict there at almost all times, even when it could have waned. And doing it without cliché...you've got to hand it to him. And if you think about more, you realise he got the teenage rebellion element mentioned early too so it's realistic AND foreshadowing in some ways!
Stephen eventually arrives at Settler's Landing where society has been partially rebuilt by old Americans. It's a creepy place, in my opinion. With all the suffering and horror of the outside world, and then there is this little paradise where they have not only medicine and sustinence, but a school, weapons and perhaps more I've forgotten. Now the fact they have these things I can accept: they've lodged in an area that was previously inhabited so this stuff was already there. The problem is that I can't believe this place does and has existed for so long practically unscathed. Surely something would have happened? Or perhaps (and here's the creepiness, creeping in) the leaders are involved in something much shadier than we realise and that no one else is aware of.
The other creepy thing is how the inhabitants have tailored this settlement to be almost exactly like how America was before the Collapse. Now I don't have a problem with the American way of life, but if this society is proof that it led to war, why are they repeating it? This is something the author brings up too, but it is a terribly poignant point. It's that old adage that if we don't learn from history, we are bound to repeat its mistakes. I guess it also underlines how are own lives are too comfortable and that, at the end of things, we are creatures of habit. To rebuild something you lost, it feels normal and comfortable. I don't think these people are undeserving of happiness, but I think they are pursuing to blindly and, perhaps, wrongly.
The romance (since I feel it has to mentioned) isn't terrible, but it took a backseat in my eyes. It was there, but it wasn't the "Oh my God, I'm so in love with you" kind, which was nice. There was more an feeling of mutual attraction that was acknowledged, but kept as a minor thing. In a world such as theirs, it's no huge surprise that any relationship is approached carefully. And in terms of the end, it makes it less difficult and questionable.
A fantastic post-apocolytia that, if you like YA, I can imagine you liking, but not if you're particularly into romance as a huge thing.