By Emmy Laybourne
Expected publication June 5, 2012 by Feiwel & Friends
Fourteen kids end up trapped in a superstore while the world outside falls apart. How will they survive? What has happened beyond the walls of the store? Who will they become?
I picked this up at Midwinter because I'm basically always in the mood for apocalyptic/survivalist stories and this one sounded promising. What I liked about it: quick read. The action basically never stops in this book, which makes the chapters and pages fly by. A diverse group of characters - well, they mostly fit into stereotypical molds but I liked that it wasn't strictly popular kids forced to interact with nerds. I also thought the addition of elementary school children made this a more interesting and complex survival story than if it just happened to be a bus full of teenagers trying to survive in the Greenway. The series of disasters that leads to the 14 being trapped - a combination of natural and man-made and mostly pretty ridiculous, Laybourne makes them interesting enough for me to believe they could actually occur in this sequence and lead to the dire situation our characters find themselves in.
Some things I have hesitations about: increasingly disturbing plot changes. There is a lot of heavy stuff happening in the pages of this novel and I don't know if it's really dealt with in a way that makes it accessible for teens. I found myself horrified by some of what happens, so it makes me hesitant to thrust this into teen hands. Additionally, there are some weird things happening to the characters that just seem out of place - specifically I'm thinking of Jake. I don't want to give anything away, but this whole storyline just didn't seem to fit here. I guess I understand what, perhaps, Laybourne was trying to do, but it didn't really work for me. Also, there were times when I just didn't connect with the main character - some of his thought paths just seemed unrealistic and wrong in this situation.
Overall, I did enjoy seeing where this novel would go, though I'm a bit put off by what was, to me, quite an abrupt ending. This is an interesting debut and could certainly find an audience. Fans of survival stories are likely to gravitate toward this one.
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.