In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world - as they know it - apart.
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The summary describes this as action packed. There is a bit of action at the beginning, to set up the scenario, and a little at the end, but aside from that nothing happens.... Nothing. And I don't mean no action, I mean little to no plot. Hours of what will we have for breakfast and who is the leader who will decide our chores (not try to figure out what is happening, or come up with a plan, or anything else that logically the characters would and should be concerned about).
We hear very little about what happened, and no explanation of why it happened, and no real idea of its impact in the world - it is almost entirely ignored aside from being a set up for the scenario for the kids. So we have kids in a store during some unexplained catastrophe. It tries then to focus on what the kids do, but do not expect Lord of the Flies-like tension... There is little tension... The kid set up as the bad guy is a very nothing sort of bad guy with hardly any real conflict, and does very little, the good guys are equally anemic in their goodness... the characters on the whole are incredibly flat, and their relationships completely uncompelling, uninteresting and not at all well developed. The main character is in love with a girl because she is "perfect, smart, funny, a 'goddess'".. Well, we will have to take his word on that because she does absilutely nothing to warrant any of those advectives in any way, does nothing to warrant very many adjectives of any sort really, and the interaction between the main character and his crush does nothing to make the reader feel concerend with their relationship or understanding of the crush.
Very little goes on in this story and it doesn't succeed in being a character driven story as the characters are just so dull and the relationships are so uninteresting. The premise is nearly completely unexplored as well, which is surprising as that could have been interesting. Once the kids get into the store, there are no threats, no real hardships (except deciding what to eat and where to sleep, etc). So it doesn't even really work as a survival story. There isn't even the emotional component you would expect with a bunch of young kids (some teens and some very young little kids) who have lost everything. The occassional mention of how they miss their parents but nothing major - and though I don't want hours of kids in emotional anguish, it would have at least made sense and been something to connect to.
Also, be warned parents - there is a bizarre amount of drugs and sex and alcohol and vulgarity for no apparent reason. This does not make the story more interesting, and is not a major element, though a frequent one, and is totally perplexing as it goes no where and contributes very little to the story or the characters. Even that element is dull and never really develops properly. There are too many undeveloped threads like that - that never seem to amount to something that can hold the story together or give it some direction or shape.
I hate giving reviews like this... But the description makes it seem like something it isn't and I think like minded people will be as disappointed as I was, so thought I should warn.