Pages: 288Publisher: Delacorte PressRelease Date: June 11, 2013 Ranking: 4/5On Day 56 of the pandemic called BluStar, sixteen-year-old Nadia's mother dies, leaving her responsible for her younger bro4ther Rabbit. They secretly received antivirus vaccines from their uncle, but most people weren't as lucky. Their deceased father taught them to adapt and survive whatever comes their way. That's their plan as they trek from Seattle to their grandfather's survivalist compound in West Virginia. Using practical survival techniques, they make their way through a world of death and destruction until they encounter an injured dog; Zack, a street kid from Los Angeles; and other survivors who are seldom what they seem. Illness, infections, fatigue, and meager supplies have become a way of life. Still, it will be worth it once they arrive at the designated place on the map they have memorized. But what if no one is there to meet them?
With the world nearly devoid of people, you basically have to love the main characters (you and they will spend a LOT of time together). While Rabbit and Zack are wonderful, it's Nadia who really shines through. Like so many other underdogs, you root for her. You want her brand of selfless love, determination, and, yes, vulnerability to win. And, to be honest, you'd probably want her at your side if the world ended, too.
The book does take some getting into. The first few chapters are overly slow and quiet- not what you'd expect from the nightmare world. Much of the information for how Blue Star unfolded comes later in the novel as well. Kizer missed a chance here to better develop the disaster that essentially wiped out the entire planet. While we see its aftermath, the initial devastation is not well documented and left me fairly curious as to what this society gone to pieces looked like in its stage of collapse (maybe that's just the morbid epidemiologist in me, though).
Ultimately, the characterization in this book is superb. Every action of Nadia's seemed believable, and her family history made the tragedy more poignant than any disease possibly could. With the addition of that big sibling-little sibling dynamic, and an impossibly adorable-almost relationship, you're constantly falling in love with almost everyone. Add in ore world-building, and the book would have been basically perfect.
(I better get a sequel.)