Society falls after an attempted cure for PTSD manifests terrible side effects.
When Cass was 10, the military administered a wonder drug to prevent PTSD that eliminated not only anxiety, but also fear itself. But the Fearless then lost their consciences, and enemies obtained the drug to create a concentrated dose. A Fearless invasion begins; they inject anyone they catch. Cass is a lucky one, taken by a wealthy neighbor to a private island where survivors create a small, insular society. After this intense first act, the book’s pacing slows, and the main plot begins. Seven years later, Cass dodges her childhood best friend’s affections before developing a connection to a new boy, Myo, who sneaked onto the island. Then some Fearless abduct Cass’ baby brother from the island, leading Cass and Myo on an off-island rescue mission during which Cass learns that much of what she’s been told since the collapse of society is a lie. She encounters fellow survivors, the Fearless and a paramilitary group trying to rebuild society as she tries to save her brother. Occasional chapters from Myo’s viewpoint elaborate on his own mission. The leads lack chemistry, creating a rote, obligatory-feeling relationship, and character motivations and the drug’s rules both bend to the plot’s requirements. The abrupt ending isn’t a cliffhanger but doesn’t rule out a sequel.
Post-apocalyptic paint-by-numbers. (Post-apocalyptic adventure. 12-17)