"This book is the first in a new dystopian thriller trilogy. The story opens with Alex, a teenage survivalist backpacking to a remote area to scatter her parents' ashes and deal with her own impending death from a brain tumor. However, she becomes an unexpected survivor of an EMP, electromagnetic pulse, that destroys every electronic device and leaves billions of people dead. Forming a small family with a little girl whose grandfather was killed and a young solider named Tom, Alex faces a new and terrifying world. Oh, and did I mention the Zombies? Fans of Hunger Games, and Everlost will be looking for the next book. Ms. Bick has a winner with this series and your students, including reluctant readers, will love it.Highly Recommended." —starred review, Library Media Connection
Bick delivers an action-packed tale of an apocalypse unfolding, launching a trilogy with flair. While camping in a national park in Michigan, 17-year-old Alex, a girl coping with a brain tumor and the side effects of its treatment, survives a series of electromagnetic pulses that may have taken out the entire world. Miles from nowhere, she hikes with new companions—an obstinate eight-year-old orphan named Ellie and a young soldier named Tom—as they try to make sense of things. Aside from wrecking their equipment, the pulse has killed most adults and morphed young people into psychotic flesh-eating monsters that are soon dubbed the Changed. Alex is different, too (her formerly dead sense of smell is now nearly supernaturally strong), and the companions worry about their own potential to "Change" as they attempt to find other survivors. Bick (Draw the Dark) doesn't shy away from gore—one woman's guts "boiled out in a dusky, desiccated tangle, like limp spaghetti"—but it doesn't derail the story's progress. If readers have any complaint, it will be with the ending, which only sets up the next book. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
Gr 10 Up—A ragtag group—a teen with an inoperable and terminal brain tumor on a journey to find closure, a young soldier on leave running from personal demons, and an angry little girl whose grandfather has taken her on a backpacking trip after the death of her father—have two important things in common: the electromagnetic pulse that ripped through the sky while they were hiking in the Waucamaw Wilderness didn't kill them, and it did not change them into crazed, flesh-eating zombies. Now they are trying to stay alive and keep as far away from the zombies as possible. However, the greatest threat to their survival may come from other survivors. In the gore, violence, and disturbing societal constructions of this postapocalyptic/zombie thriller, readers will see echoes of Suzanne Collins's "Hunger Games" series (Scholastic), Patrick Ness's "Chaos Walking" series (Candlewick), and James Dashner's "The Maze Runner" series (Delacorte), making this an excellent choice for those searching for more along the same lines. The novel is equal parts horrifying and riveting, and many teens will be compelled to devour it in one sitting. But be forewarned: not a single plot point is wrapped up, so readers who like things neatly solved better wait until the whole trilogy is out.—Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO
When civilization ends and you're faced with an army of face-eating, nuclear-mutant zombies, having a brain tumor doesn't seem so bad.
Alex, orphaned, 17 and dying, decides she's sick of pointless chemo. She bugs out of school for a backpacking trip in the wilderness, determined to make her own end. Just a few days into her trip something terrible happens: A horrible, screeching pain knocks her senseless, kills an elderly backpacker and sends scores of dead birds falling from the sky. Wild dogs in the area seem to have run mad, and did Alex actually see two teenagerseatingan old woman? Along with two fellow survivors—bratty middle schooler Ellie and Tom, a young soldier on leave—Alex seeks safety. Alex and Tom are both outdoorsy, but for every cache of weapons and MREs they find, another horrible event takes place. Their gun-toting survivalism only keeps them safe for so long in a post-apocalyptic America in which most of the other young people have been Changed to cannibals. The requisite creepy cultist village raises excellent questions of trust and society. Alex can't survive on her Glock alone; she needs supplies, knowledge, allies and affection.
Splendidly paced apocalyptic zombie horror ends with a thrilling, terrifying cliffhanger and a number of unresolved mysteries.(Horror. 12-15)