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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tighter Prose Makes Cured Stand Out From Its Fellows

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers for Cured, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, Stung.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

For those who do not qualify for life inside the safety of the wall, life is tough.  Rabid Fecs still roam the land, as do violent raiders.  People kill for any scrap of food they can find.  Women are an especially hot commodity in this dead, post-apocalyptic version of Denver.  Not that it matters—17-year-old Jacqui "Jack" Bloom stopped being a girl (at least on the outside) a long time ago.  It's safer that way.  Fashion makeovers and trips to the mall belong to a different world; her only concern in this one is helping her brothers keep the family's home safe.  With her rifle in hand, she spends hours on the roof, scanning the horizon for any hint of trouble.

Because she's so needed at home, Jacqui feels a little—okay, a lot—guilty for stealing away in the early hours of the morning.  But, she's got to find her older brother, Dean, who's been missing for a year and a half.  They haven't heard a word from him, so although Jacqui fears the worst, she also hopes for the best.  Because Dean left to escort a former neighbor to a rumored safe haven in Wyoming, Jacqui goes to her daughter for help.  Fiona Tarsis, now living inside the wall, brings along two others—her boyfriend, Bowen, and her brother, Jonah.  Cradled in Jonah's backpack are bottles of bee flu antidote, precious bargaining chips.  But when they're stolen, the group is left with few advantages.

When they're rescued by 18-year-old Kevin Emerson, who offers safety and supplies, Jacqui and company can't quite believe their luck.  Is it too good to be true?  The more Jacqui learns about Kevin, the less she trusts him.  Who is Kevin, really?  Why is he helping them?  These are mysteries Jacqui needs to figure out—before it's too late for them all.  

Originality is hard to come by in the YA dystopian genre, so it's really not surprising that the plot of Cured, the second book in Bethany Wiggins' Stung series, feels familiar.  Still, like I said about the first book, this one boasts stronger prose than many of its fellows.  So, while I got a little bored with the same ole, same ole, the characters and action kept me reading.  I would have liked more depth from the novel's cast as well as some plot twists I didn't see coming (Kevin's identity is pretty obvious from the get-go, although it takes Jacqui a long time to figure it out).  Overall, though, I enjoyed this one.

(Readalikes:  Stung by Bethany Wiggins; other zombie and zombie-ish YA dystopians)  


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs); violence; mild sexual innuendo; and references to rape

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of Cured from the generous folks at Bloomsbury via those at NetGalley.  Thank you!
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