Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Day it All Ended

The experts say we are ready for a pandemic of epic proportions, but we have never really understood what that means in terms of the collapse of society and survival. How many of us could really live through the apocalypse? In Amber Kizer's A Matter of Days, two brave kids set out to travel across the country in the wake of the most devastating pandemic the world has ever seen.

Nadia and Rabbit weren't raised like other kids. With their uncle and father teaching them survival tips all their life, their crazy, off-the-grid grandfather, and their nurse mother, they have picked up a few tricks over the years. When their Uncle Bean comes to Seattle and gives them injections, they know something is about to happen. A scientist from the most secret of government labs, Bean knew BluStar was going to decimate the population. He also knew the vaccine to stop it. He left them with an injection for their mother and instructions of what to do should the pandemic begin, and the rest would have to be up to them.

After BluStar took down the world, Nadia and Rabbit followed Beans instructions. It wasn't enough to save their mother, but they managed to make it through the virus, the mass exodus, and the mass extinction. Now that the virus has run its course, they must continue as the direction tell them, to make their way from Seattle to the wilds of West Virginia where their grandfather has been building a place to survive anything in the heart of an old mine. It all sounds so simple, but with society all but gone, gangs of marauders, and people who have totally lost their minds following the end of the world as they know it, making it across the entire country seems almost impossible. Still, Nadia and Rabbit know what they must do and where they must go, and nothing can stop them. Even the supreme kindness of strangers.

I love apocalypse stories. Love them. The Stand is one of my all time favorites, and this book reminded me of the YA version of The Stand or Earth Abides (without Stephen King's mysticism, of course). The idea of being left alone int he world with so little of the population surviving is terrifying, but I can't get enough of it! So this story had a lot to live up to (and I was pleasantly surprised to read the fabulous author's note at the end of the book and learn Kizer was a huge fan of The Stand as a kid!). And A Matter of Days held its own next to those giants! It was, of course, a YA version- less ugly, gruesome, and gritty. But it was still a great story of a brother and sister left to fend for themselves. It wasn't as gritty as Mike Mullin's Ashfall, but it was still a fabulous story!

I also loved that we FINALLY have a couple of characters in an apocalypse story who know what they are talking about (and Rabbit names their found dog TEOTWAWKI, TWAWKI for short- "The End of the World As We Know It"!!). These kids didn't know everything  about survival, but Bean had left them with fabulous instructions and with books for survival. With everything their Special Ops father had taught them before he was killed in action, they had enough to make it as far as they did. I loved the fact that these kids were the product of standard preppers (not the type who get a little carried away with it). It was a fabulous twist, and one I have been waiting for throughout years of reading this genre! I mean, really, do you think there would be a zombie apocalypse in 2013 and not one single person who survived would have watched or read The Walking Dead?? So silly! A few people who know what to do are going to certainly survive, but so are some who want to prey on those unwilling or unprepared to defend themselves. And then there will be some purely decent people, and I am really glad this book had a little bit of everything- it made it a tame but realistic PA novel that I really enjoyed!

I actually read this book in one complete sitting (barring water and bathroom breaks). It was so well paced and so interesting I couldn't bring myself to put it down. I really related to all the main characters, even though they were so different from one another. Because this is a fairly tame PA story, it would be great for most junior high through high school students. The writing is fairly simple and the style is straightforward. I think this would be a fun book for a variety of readers, including those adults who love PA! So, Ms. Kizer, please give us more like this! I loved it!

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