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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

There's No Easy Way to Say It: This One's a Bit of a Disappointment

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers for No Easy Way Out, it may inadvertently spoil plot surprises from its predecessor, No Safety in Numbers.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

It's been a week since police locked down the Shops at Stonecliff—a mega-mall in Westchester County, New York—trapping hundreds of people inside.  Thanks to an airborne virus, the crowd has thinned considerably.  Many of the detainees now lay on gurneys in the office supply store turned medical center.  And they might just be the lucky ones.  The rest of the mall's population is fighting hunger, gang violence, boredom and fear.  Although the senator's working hard to establish some semblance of order inside the quarantined mall, it's still a tense, dangerous place to be.  Especially when the only way to escape seems to be in a body bag.

With gangs of armed teenagers roaming the corridors, the senator knows she has to do something.  She enlists the help of Marco Cavajal, who agrees to spy on the problematic youths in exchange for keeping his precious universal key card.  What the senator doesn't know is that Marco's running his own little side operation.  And he's not the only one.  Someone close to the senator's going behind her back every chance they get.  The only thing Marco knows for sure is that he can't trust anyone.

Meanwhile, the other teens—Lexi Ross, Ryan Murphy and Shay Dixit—have their own problems with which to deal.  With a mounting death toll; a dwindling food supply; little contact with the outside world; and different factions trying to overthrow the mall's patchwork government, there's plenty of trouble to go around.  The biggest question of all is not when the mall people will be released, but if they will.  And the answer?  Well, it's looking like a big, fat never.  Can the teens find a way to escape?  Or will they, like everyone else, be stuck in the deadly mall until disease or an act of desperation takes them down?

Although I had issues with No Safety in Numbers, the first book in Dayna Lorentz's dystopian series about four teens stuck in a quarantined mall, I applauded it for being a fast, entertaining read.  At a little over 250 pages, it trotted along fast enough to keep me interested, if not totally riveted.  The newest installment, No Easy Way Out (available for purchase July 16, 2013), is almost double the length of its predecessor.  And, it's got the same problems as the first book, namely weak character development; a simplistic plot line; and ho-hum prose.  Which means the story sags quite a bit.  It also feels too redundant.  I wanted some surprises, some conflicts that up the ante for the people in the mall.  And that just didn't happen often enough in No Easy Way Out.  Overall, I found this one overly-long and ultimately, disappointing.  I still really like the premise behind this series—the execution, not so much.  Bummer.

(Readalikes:  No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz; also, although this series doesn't have supernatural elements, it reminds me of the Gone series [Gone; Hunger; Lies; Plague; Fear; Light] by Michael Grant)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence/gore, depictions of underage drinking, and sexual innuendo/content

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of No Easy Way Out from the generous folks at Penguin Young Readers Group.  Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. Bummer. After reading the synopsis on this one, I was really keen to pick it up.


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