It’s giveaway time! I received a copy of Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas from Walker Books Australia for review. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my cup of tea – more about that in a minute – so it’s time to send it on to a more loving home. To enter the giveaway, which is open internationally (hooray!), scroll down a bit. But if you actually want to know something about the book you are hoping to win, here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.
A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you’re as good as dead. And David has no gang. It’s just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school.
I had high hopes for this one but unfortunately I gave up after about four chapters and 45ish pages. I had three main problems with what I read. The first of these is that the narrative style focused far more on telling than showing, and so I didn’t feel drawn in to the story.
The second is that the major plot point of the book – that the kids have somehow contracted a virus that is deadly to adults – is just sort of plonked into the text. There is no indication of how this happened or why or anything. Admittedly, this could be explained after page 45 and I would be none the wiser, but essentially what I’m saying is that there was not enough believable world-building in the early stages for me to want to stick with it.
**For examples of parts of the story that stopped me from suspending my disbelief, see the below paragraphs. If you take my word for it, feel free to skip the below paragraphs**
Examples of this include the fact that the army has cordoned off the school within minutes of the first teacher’s death – why (and how??) could they do this unless they were involved? (I don’t know if they’re involved because I finished at page 45, but this was the only logical reason I could think of for the army to be there so quick.)
Another example is the fact that the teacher who dies in front of David (the main character) takes time out from vomiting up his internal organs to warn David to “stay back!”. Why? If I was literally spewing my guts up, I’d want the nearest person to help me, not stay back. Did the teacher know that David was causing his death, and if so, how did he know?
Finally, there is a scene in which the boys carry the corpse of the aforementioned dead teacher to a sort of makeshift burial ground (actually, a collection of lockers). This scene is noted as being two weeks after the death of the teacher. At no point are maggots mentioned. I would have expected (and the most cursory of glances at the first webpage about corpse decomposition I came across confirms this) that the body, at two weeks after death, would be crawling with maggots and doused in more than a little seepage of bodily fluid. Yet this is not mentioned. Further to this, the teacher-burial-locker thing seems quite an organised operation, but no mention is made of who organised it, how everyone agreed to it etc, etc….
**Okay, examples over. Normal service now resumes**
The straw that broke the gargoyle’s back however, was a mention on pages 44 and 45 that was particularly telling to me regarding how women were going to be portrayed in this book.
Picture it: A month after hundreds of teenagers are left to their own devices in a locked school, with food only provided through occasional airdrops, the main characters burst into a girl’s toilet while on the run from an angry mob. This is mere pages after a boy is stabbed through the throat with a piece of wood. Guess what the girls in the bathroom are doing.
Go on, guess.
Dying their hair with a packet of Kool-Aid.
I effing kid you not.
So, the authors expect us to believe that in a life-or-death situation, wherein food is scarce and, as has just been demonstrated, people will literally KILL to get it, these young ladies are not only misusing a foodstuff that could be used to boost their daily calorie intake, but are also seemingly more worried about their looks than, oh, I don’t know, being locked up with hundreds of hormonal, angry, mob-based teen boys where the risk of rape or violent attack would be astronomical.
And so I stopped reading. Because if the lacklustre narrative style and lack of basic research weren’t bad enough, there was no way I was going to sit through a book in which young women are portrayed as looks-obsessed halfwits even as the world collapses around them.
Having said that, the book is getting a majority of four and five star reviews on Goodreads, so what the hell do I know? Hence, the giveaway!
If you would like to be the forever home of Quarantine: The Loners (kindly provided by Walker Books Australia), just click on the rafflecopter link below.
Until next time,