Monday, June 24, 2013

Thousands Trapped in a Locked-Down Mega-Mall with a Deadly Virus? Intriguing Premise, Meh Execution.

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

At a suburban mega-mall in Westchester County, New York, thousands of shoppers weave in and out of 150 different stores and restaurants.  It's just another Saturday at the mall.  Until a teenage bus boy finds an odd-looking device in the shopping center's HVAC room.  Authorities lock down the enormous mall, imprisoning a very large crowd of shoppers.  While police comb the place trying to understand the nature of the threat, the people grow restless.  As what was supposed to be a few hours of detainment turns into an overnight stay, they become scared.  Angry.  Suspicious.  Then, people start to get sick.  Really sick.  So sick it's obvious that the detainees have been exposed to something much more sinister than just a bomb threat.  There's something in the mall's air that authorities don't want released.  Which means none of the people trapped in the mall are going anywhere anytime soon.

As hours turn into days, the people inside the mall must learn how to adapt to their new society.  With babies wailing, teenagers roaming wild, and people of every age collapsing from illness, it's barely-controlled chaos. How long will it take before the food runs out?  Before there's no clean water?  Before the mall's pharmacy runs out of meds for diabetics and others who are chronically ill?  Will the detainees be released before there's outright anarchy?  Will they be released at all?

In the middle of the mess are four teenagers:  bus boy Marco Carvajal; senator's daughter and computer geek, Lexi Ross; football hotshot, Ryan Murphy; and Shay Dixit, a lonely Indian-American girl, whose only goal is to keep her elderly grandmother and mischievous younger sister safe.  As the four interact, friendships will develop, rivalries will grow, plans for escape will be made and answers will be sought.  With more and more people dying, it's up to the teenagers to find a way out of their dangerous prison—before it's too late for them all.

No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz is the chilling first book in a YA dystopian series about Marco, Lexi, Ryan and Shay's adventures inside a locked-down mega-mall.  The premise intrigued me from the start.  It's a creepy idea, sure, but one that definitely feels more realistic than an impending zombie apocalypse.  That being said, the book lacks something in character development, plot intricacy and the overall quality of writing.  The novel is fast-paced and exciting, an entertaining read if not a particularly well-crafted one.  I'll read the sequel because I happen to have it on my shelf; otherwise, I probably wouldn't continue.  So, yeah, here's my assessment in a nutshell:  interesting premise, weak execution, entertaining enough to keep me reading, but not necessarily clamoring for more.  

(Readalikes:  its sequel, No Easy Way Out (available July 16, 2013).  Also, although this series has no supernatural elements, it still reminds me a bit of the Gone series [Gone; Hunger; Lies; Plague; Fear; Light] by Michael Grant)

Grade:  


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence and sexual innuendo/content

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find 


1 comment:

  1. Oh, rats! The 'meh" factor!!! This has an incredible plot idea that makes me want to try it....maybe on a long car ride this summer.

    Get ready for the 116 degree weather this week!! Are your kids living in the pool??

    Hope you can find some time to read!
    Gaye

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