Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Book Review: Quaranteen: The Loners, by Lex Thomas

I consider myself fairly good at suspending disbelief in order to connect with a good plot, but Quaranteen: The Loners just didn't get there.

It's the first day of school for David and his freshman brother, Will, at their brand new high school. Soon after they arrive, there is an explosion, and all of the adults die a horrible, graphic death. The school is quickly quarantined by the military.

The school kids almost immediately form gangs, based on the usual high school cliques. There are food and supply drops twice a week, which the gangs must battle for. The swiftness of the teens' demise into anarchy was unbelievable. I can believe this would happen over time, but there would have been some attempt at organization and governance first.

Speaking of time, it was very difficult to decipher the passage of time. At times, we were told weeks or months had passed, and supposedly over a year passes during the story, but it was very ambiguous.

Will has epilepsy, and because of the absence of his medication, has a seizure very early in the book. This fact is alluded to a couple more times, but he doesn't have any more seizures until it is necessary for a very convenient plot device at the end of the book. It would have been much more believable if he had experienced some other difficulties because of this disease.

The authorities drop food and supplies every two weeks. Every drop causes an aggressive battle as the different gangs try to procure enough food for survival. Why? If they could drop food every two weeks, why not every week? Why did students have to be starving? Why not include some communication -- letters or news -- from the outside world?

There is no significant world building. We have no idea what is going on outside. The school has been quarantined because the teens carry a virus that kills adults. The military is able to enter the school to install a high-tech device so that the students can determine when they are no longer adolescents. Therefore they can leave, but must do so before they die. Other than that, there's no outside communication or assistance. Why? I couldn't get over the fact that the adults didn't communicate in any way. If they can come in once, why not come in and take over and restore order?

Thomas made it really difficult to bond with the characters. I just kept thinking that everything they were going through didn't make any sense, and it was frustrating to see their suffering.

Quaranteen: The Loners consisted of one violent scene after another. Boys (and yes, I think this can definitely be considered a boy book) who enjoy violent displays will probably enjoy this book, even with the lack of a coherent explanation of the situation. I, however, only finished this one because I had to review it for a printed publication. Quaranteen: The Loners would have been a DNF, except for that fact. I wouldn't recommend this necessarily to reluctant readers because it is fairly long at over 400 pages. I'm pretty tolerant, but you really have to love violence to connect with this book. I need more than violence....

Published by Egmont, April 24, 2012
ARC obtained from LMC Magazine for review
406 pages

Rating: 1.5/5

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  1. Autsch... I'm sorry you didn't like this book at all... I do not have problems with violence but it has to be justified to move the story forward. If there is no such reason then, why bother? Just for the sake of violence? Also there is something about the issue that a virus only kills adults, I saw that before but I still have a hard time dealing with this kind of concept!

  2. I'm not a huge fan of violence. I think I would have a very hard time reading this book as I often do when kids are fighting kids.

  3. Hmmmm.... and this is why I appreciate your honest reviews. Doesn't sound like my cup of tea (although I believe there is a reader for every book ... I don't think I'll read this one).

  4. Oh dear, I will stay away from this one!

  5. Hi Annette, I just recently came across your blog and I really enjoy your reviews as well as find them helpful! Just started following you. Have a good day!

  6. I'm not that into violence as a general rule, but I know that if violence is my only way to connect with the book, it's not for me. Sorry you didn't like the book, but you wrote a great review.

  7. I agree with so much of what you have pointed out about this book. I too struggled with the lack of outside communication until the scene toward the end when the terrified adult in his little box had to go in and test the kids manually, and the end result for him. I do think that this is an accurate depiction of what would happen, and I think it would happen rather quickly in the absence of adults. Call me cynical, Great review!


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