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Many thanks to Tracy Lawson for gifting me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Careen is heading to her university class one Friday in 2034 when disaster sirens blare. There is general confusion:
A frightened crowd gathered outside the university’s student center, pressing toward the doors and shouting over the siren. Careen fought to keep her balance in the undulating mob. The shrieking siren stopped abruptly, and in the unnerving silence, phones all around her pinged with incoming messages. She dug hers out of her back pocket.
“Campus alert. Shut up—it’s a campus alert.” The murmurs spread and seemed to calm the crowd. Hundreds of phones played the voice message in near unison, magnifying the audio so it was easily heard:
“Moments ago, the Office of Civilian Safey and Defense confirmed that a chemical weapons attack against the United States is imminent. Terrorists have released a latent cocktail of poisons into the atmosphere, where it can remain, inert, until such time as they choose to detonate it. You are directed to report to a designated distribution center in your area to receive an antidote that will protect you. Weekly allotments of this antidote will be provided free of charge for as long as the threat persists. The OSCD expects the terrorists to mount repeated attacks, so it is essential that you take the recommended daily dosage. Compliace is a small price to pay for your safety.”
Every face turned towards the cloudless, blue sky as someone’s sobs cut through the silence.
This dystopian novel starts off with a threat that we can all identify with, and goes on to show that the government has outlawed almost everything that makes us free, in the name of protecting against terrorists. Careen’s father has died in a terrorist attack, and so she is particularly scared. On the other hand, Tommy, whose parents died in a car crash, is recovering from his injuries suffered in that crash and is angry. He feels alone and just wants to die. When he joins forces with Careen and learns about the Resistance, his will to live becomes stronger.
We also read about the happenings behind the scenes at the OSCD, where some employees may not be entirely loyal to the current government regime. There is a particular character that I was very sympathetic to: Dr Trina Jacobs, whose suspicions land her into hot water. Her character was written very well, and I enjoyed how she handled herself against what the OCSD was throwing at her.
Lawson’s description of a future America, broken into quadrants so activity can be monitored better, is a chilling and plausible concept. The incarnation of the OSCD was unnerving, as the bok explained how this department gained so much power and changed the entire face of the nation. Perfect dystopian existence! As I read, I was quite glad that I was not living in Careen and Tommy’s world.
The dialogue is well written and there is suspensful action aplenty as they discover that the government is keeping vital information from them about the terrorist attacks. Who is part of the Resistance? Who can they trust? And what’s REALLY in that antidote? The good guys and the bad guys are not obvious right away, so you have to keep turning pages to see who helps who. The ending leaves things open for the action to be picked up again in the second book (to be published in 2015). I know I’ll be looking forward to what happens next!
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