This PA novel was very readable, a quiet gem (despite the lurid pulp fiction cover). A strange creepy plague strikes Los Angeles, and quickly spreads, killing almost everyone. Our protagonist, a girl celebrating her 15th birthday at a Dodgers game, is exposed. She survives the contamination and watches as the world around her dies. The scenes of her outside her best friend's house, as her friends stop responding to text messages, seemed real and scary. She makes decent decisions for survival, and experiences sincere fear, panic, and despair as she wonders if she is the only person alive. In her loneliness,she attracts the attention of more survivors, but the friendly-seeming group are not so friendly after all.
I really appreciated how real Scarlett seemed. Her emotional reactions are careful and yet age-appropriate. She doesn't fall into weepy depression, double-guess herself, act sassy and sarcastic, or look for someone to save her. Even when she meets a boy her age, they are equals instead of her hoping that he is her white knight. She plays a full part in her escape from dangerous circumstances, but she doesn't have special powers or too much luck to be believed. The plot moves quickly in the book, as PA stories usually do. The language is straightforward, yet doesn't leave out descriptive details or small moments of beauty either. I felt very in the moment while listening to the book, caught up in the story. While I would have happily read a sequel, I was satisfied by the ending of the book - and it may have been stronger for it.
I kept thinking that this book is what California (the popular YA PA book from last summer) tried and failed to be.
NOTE: I received a free copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review. I was pretty sure that I would enjoy the book, since I very much enjoyed his sci-fi detective noir novel Strictly Analog.
This was my first introduction to the world of Dogboy. It was an interesting mashup of superhero and children's story. Dogboy is a 10 year old superhero in a Gotham-like dark and dangerous city full of double-faced politicians and dangerous or corrupt grownups. Initially, I thought this was a children's story due to the pre-teen age of the protagonists and the relative innocence of a superhero called "Dogboy", but the darkness and overall themes of the book make this a bit more of a YA-age bracket than middle grades. The themes for betrayal and solidarity and trust are universal, however. I liked that there was a lot of "grey" to the good guys, especially Cindy's actions - though it made me feel sorry for Bronson since she might end up being a villain. There are some violent and disgusting scenes, but I loved that the superpowers were simle and straightforward. The author did a great job telling a tale that doesn't rely on mega-powers, fight scenes, and elaborate gadgets.
I admit that I kept envisioning this book as a graphic novel or comic as I read along. I think it would have a wide age appeal: middle grade to adult.
I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author via Audiobook Blast Facebook in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
A thoroughly charming and age-appropriate YA book. Our protagonist is Jolia, a shy junior in high school. She was bullied for her bad teeth and braces, and reacted by simply keeping her mouth closed and fading into the background. Now her braces are off, but she has a fear of speaking so strong that it is causing her to fail Speech class. She has to fix her grade and get past it or she no only won't graduate - but she won;t be able to take the elective art class with her best friend. Forced into joining the Speech team for extra credit, Jolia faces her fears of speaking in public, joining a new social group, weathering her only friend's new obsession with a boyfriend, and maybe even a chance at first love herself.
The writing is fine and lovely in this book - achingly familiar, emotional, and realistic. The first romance is awkward and breathless as I remember it being. Jolia is unable to speak her mind a few times too many, but I also know that feeling that there are some things that I just could not bear to say back when I was young. I'd have loved this book in middle school. Jolia's triumph of finding her voice and her confidence was heartwarming.