Sunday, June 16, 2013

So Many Lives Lost

When a virus takes over, it is only natural to assume the Powers that Be would be developing a vaccine or a treatment to stop the pandemic. People trust the government will save them. But a virus that collapsed all the governing powers is going to squash any hope of finding a cure as well. In the second book of Megan Crewe's The Fallen Worlds Trilogy, Kaelyn has the weight of the world on her shoulders. In The Lives We Lost, the hope of a cure lies in the hands of an orphaned teenage girl. 

Kae isn't in the mood for celebrating her birthday with everything that has happened to them. When she grabs her father's coat, the only thing that still smells like him, she discovers the key she has been looking for desperately: the key to his lab where he was trying to develop a cure. When she goes to the lab, she finds 5 vials of a vaccine her father was convinced would work, and as the first guinea pig, it seemed to be protecting him. With the vaccine in tow, Kae convinces Gav to trek with her to Ottawa in search of government scientists who can replicate the vaccine and save the world. What they don't expect are military helicopters to descend on the island in order to destroy what they believe is the epicenter of the pandemic. When a lone soldier speeds up to the dock to save them, Kae piles everyone in to race across the straight to the mainland. Now they are forced to begin their journey with more than they had expected and even with a kid in tow. 

But life on the mainland has changed. Leo tried to warn them about what it was like in a world where everyone was scared of dying, people were freezing to death, and starvation was imminent, but Kae is determined to save people with her vaccine. She uses 2 of the vials to vaccinate her little cousin Meredith and Leo, but Gav refuses to use one of the precious vaccines on himself. As they get further into the mainland, however, it becomes clear the virus isn't the only thing they have to worry about. When Meredith tells a group of hostile strangers about the vaccine, the group finds themselves dodging the murderous gang all across Canada. There are a lot of people who would love to save themselves with the few vaccines instead of save the world, but a few brave teens know the right thing to do, even if it kills them.

There is a lot about this book, the group of teens tracking across the countryside, the snow, the food, etc. that reminds me of Ashfall by Mike Mullin, but this story is much less mature than Mullin's series. That isn't to say it isn't a good story, but if you have read some of the more gritty and mature versions of this story, this one won't be as exciting. There were quite a few instances where I wanted to just smack the kids as they announced their possession of a vaccine, got in arguments with people on the street, and trusted people WAY too easily, but I imagine there are a lot of naive young adults out there who would fall into the same traps (although letting your little cousin announce you have a vaccine is quite possibly the stupidest thing you could ever do). I wanted them to maintain a lower profile, but they seemed hell-bent on walking in and announcing their presence with every step. It was maddening at times. 

Even with the lack of maturity, this was a fun story. It's mild nature would make it great for a younger reader who was new to the post-apocalyptic genre, but it would probably be too immature for a reader who had finished a story like Ashfall. I would give it to your stronger middle school readers, and it would be really interesting to see how many of those kids would find the actions of the book's characters to be childish as I did. Maybe they wouldn't even notice! But, Crewe did a pretty good job, and I will definitely be coming back to the third book to see the final leg of their journey. 

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