Wednesday, August 29, 2012
The Way We Begin
Living on an island seems idyllic, right? Well, if a deadly virus broke out on your island, you might not think your isolation was so beneficial, especially when the government quarantined everyone on the island and killed anyone trying to leave. In Megan Crewe's first book of the The Fallen World trilogy, The Way We Fall, we get a view of island life that will make you cringe (or itch if you have fallen ill!).
Kaelyn misses Leo, but being back on the island where her mother grew up and not in the big city is enough of a transition to keep her mind occupied. Still, she writes Leo letters in a journal to say all the things she wished she had said in person. She tries to transition, but the kids in school aren't as willing to accept her as they used to be. When one of her friends' father gets sick, she is creeped out by the strangely and brutally honest things he says to her. When he devolves into illness and dies, it begins cycle the island is bound to succumb to.
Soon everyone is getting sick. The illness is contagious, so simply speaking with someone is sick could doom you to the cycle. With so many dying on the island, the government decides to cut the island off to protect the rest of the mainland, but doing so cuts the island off from necessary supplies. The government drops a few supply shipments, but when things start to get tight, looting and hoarding become a problem. When Kaelyn sees Gav, a classmate, taking food from stores, she assumes he is hoarding, but in reality he is trying to make sure everyone out there gets fed in the wake of the crisis. Even though the world is coming to an end, there are still some people out there trying to do right by others, but how can you keep looking to the future when almost everyone you know has lost their future to an unbeatable illness?
I have now officially read three quarantine stories in the past two months. Didn't really intend to go on a quarantine binge, but I did. Out of the three, I would say this was my second favorite, just behind Lex Thomas' Quarantine (original title, I know). I think this story was more realistic in terms of the actual illness, but somethings seemed off about the state of civilization on the island. No one really fights back. Mostly people hunker down. And the looting takes a while (like weeks and weeks) to finally ravage the island. I found that a little unbelievable, but it made for a better story in terms of humanity. I didn't find myself constantly thinking I would rather be a banana slug than a human being.
My biggest issue with this story was its premise- not the quarantine or the illness, or even the island, but the totally unnecessary "journal conversation" with Leo. Leo is never on the island, isn't even fully explained, but the whole bloody book, is about him? This book would have been much more powerful without that angle. I didn't even mind the first person narrative, which isn't usually my style, but I hated the idea of Kae pouring her heart out to a boy who has nothing to do with any of the story I was reading. In fact, I don't even know the full Leo story now that I have finished the book! OK, end rant. Sorry.
But still, I really did like this story and have every intention of reading the next book in the trilogy. I am looking forward to more of Gav, because he is just the type of young man you all hope your sons will grow up into. He thinks about others before himself and risks everything to help people he barely knows. I love Gav! This is a mild mini-apocalypse type story that would be appropriate for a mixture of ages and reading levels as it is relatively tame on all fronts. And hopefully Crewe will explain a little about Leo in the next book, or ditch him altogether!