By Megan Crewe
Like many great adventurers, Kaelyn starts a journal at the beginning of her junior year. Her goal is to recreate herself; no longer will she be the shy and awkward nature lover who eschews conversation with others; from now on, Kaelyn will be outgoing, charming, and have many friends. But when a deadly virus invades the island where she lives, gaining friends is the least of her worries. Now her focus is on survival, not celebrity. Kaelyn’s voice is very simplistic for an obviously intelligent junior in high school, and on the positive side of this voice, it is impossible not to like her. She is very responsible, conscientious, and caring but never comes off as a braggart. Additionally, it is easy to relate to her insecurities when moving from her comfort zone of introvert to the more risky, extrovert. What is less believable is her reaction to the tragedy that surrounds her. Perhaps a failing of the journal format, when devastating deaths and murders occur right in front of Kaelyn her reactions are grossly understated, and inadequate. It isn’t simply that Kaelyn is numb to the pain of loss, it is that somewhere in the prose, the reader doesn’t connect with Kaelyn’s horror and (assumed?) pain. The premise of the novel is not unique, and so at the onset the writer has a challenge to rise above similar work in the apocalyptic genre. A valiant effort, but for stronger works that relate to viruses try Code Orange by Caroline Cooney or The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. For more riveting survival stories try Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, or Ashfall by Mike Mullin.