After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he’s secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.
The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park…and discovers truths they could never have imagined.
Release Date: July 29, 2014
I actually had no prior knowledge of this novel before I went to Book Expo America and was just desperate to get a copy of Ryan Graudin’s The Walled City. However, it turned out that Little, Brown Books for Young Readers was actually dropped The Young World with The Walled City, and I quickly decided that this was a book I had to read ASAP!
First thing you should know about this novel is that it is told in a dual point of view between a male and female character. Now, I know what you are thinking, the voices have to be super distinct in order for this to work, and Weitz did this extremely well. Jefferson’s voice was extremely straight forward and honest, just like his personality. He does have a tendency to go off on small tangents, but not nearly as much as his co-narrator, Donna. Jeez, Donna’s voice is ridiculously annoying at times. She overuses the word “like,” uses an extensive amount of pop culture references, and has a sarcastic cadence that really can get a bit much. However, it is all of these things that made me adore her voice. See, Donna talks just like any teenager I know. Plus, the pop culture references (which I normally don’t care for) helps a lot in this book to help show when the sickness began and what things these kids remember from Before.
Another thing I really liked was Weitz’s decision to capitalize certain words in order to emphasize their importance to the vernacular of the kids still alive. Examples: Before, Adults, etc
The plot moves at a decent pace, utilizing the “journey” trope, and then miraculously speeds up towards the end, which kind of took the winds out of my sails as a reader. But, I suppose Weitz set it up so there could be more than one novel. I can’t say that I loved this book, but I definitely didn’t hate it, and look forward to the next installment.