Jack Bloom leaves behind a sheltered, if slightly warped, suburban life to seek missing brother Dean and Mrs. Tarsis, the woman Dean tried to lead to safety, in this simmering sequel to Stung (2013).
Exercise and rationing have turned Jack from a chubby and sensitive child into a hardened survivalist, but even three years of deprivation—delivered in flashbacks—outside the safety of the walled city of Denver cannot successfully transform Jacqui Aislynn Bloom into a boy. As in the first book, women are a hot commodity, and Jack is doubly endangered when she travels with fierce but feminine Fiona “Fo” Tarsis to find their missing family members. Accompanied by Fo’s beau, Dreyden Bowen, and Fo’s emotionally and physically scarred brother, Jonah, the girls soon add another man—the sexy but enigmatic Kevin—to their group as they run into raiders, romantic entanglements and other typical teen dystopian troubles. While the Mad Max–esque raiders and zombielike beasts (children transformed into murderous monsters by their vaccines against the bee flu) seem to be standard post-apocalyptic fare, Wiggins poignantly raises issues of transformation and redemption.
Despair and destruction are sweetened by hope and love. (Science fiction. 14 & up)