Thursday, August 1, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz, 263 pages
At first, the teens thought that being trapped in a mall with lots of free restaurant food was rather fun.
Later, the fun and novelty wore off. 
And later still, the quarantine became a scene of desperation and panic. 
Four teens – two girls and two boys – are among the thousands of people suddenly quarantined in a huge, busy three-level shopping mall when a biological bomb is discovered in an air duct. Most have no idea why security and the police are preventing everyone from leaving or entering. A total communications blackout is in effect.
No Safety in Numbers is the account of the week-long mall lockdown, told from the alternating points of view of four teens, Marco, Lexi, Shay and Ryan.
As the story begins, each teen is preoccupied with personal issues. Very soon, these issues are forced well into the background as the confusion in the mall grows. People are looking for information and asking questions – but there are no answers.  Many are trying, unsuccessfully, to make phone calls. Some try to escape, but none succeed.
As the days pass, the confusion turns to fear and violence as food grows scarce, people fall sick with a mysterious illness and some even die.  Riots occur, and when hazmat crews show up, there is mass panic. The four teens try to help others, but in the end, they must simply try to survive.   
Dayna Lorentz’s gripping novel envisions what can happen when “regular people are faced with impossible choices”, when fear and the instinct for survival seem to trump logical and compassionate behavior in many people. In others, including the four teens, the crisis brings out the best.  Readers will ask themselves “Could this situation happen in my community, and if it did, how would I react?”
There is little resolution at the end of this novel (which is somewhat similar to The Lord of the Flies and Contagion) but it will be followed by a soon-to-be-published sequel, No Easy Way Out.

** Recommended for ages 13 years and up (some mature content and language)

The Raft by S.A. Bodeen, 231 pages
In this intensely compelling story, 15-year-old Robie is returning home on a small cargo plane which goes down over the Pacific Ocean during an unexpected storm. After being pulled onto a small life raft by the only other survivor, Max, the two are in desperate straits.  Max has suffered a serious concussion and isn’t always conscious.  They have no drinking water, no food except a bag of Skittles, and there is no land anywhere in sight. What they do have is a flimsy, leaking raft and a dangerous tiger shark which is following them. 
Robie and Max hold very little hope of being rescued.  Because Robie hadn’t told anyone of her last-minute change of plans, no one knows that she was on the cargo flight. No one will be looking for her, and even if they did, how would they find her?  Robie and Max are in the middle of nowhere.
This is an excellent survival story. The well-developed plot, with its unexpected twist, will keep a tight grip on readers right to the bittersweet conclusion of the story.  Robie is a likeable, resourceful and realistic protagonist who, understandably, makes some mistakes. In the end, she is saved as much by her own mental strength as by the circumstances that finally, after many days, lead to her rescue.      

** Recommended for ages 12 to 15 years.

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on August 1, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

No comments:

Post a Comment