The disease from The Way We Fall (2012) has reached the mainland, but so has Kaelyn, carrying a potential vaccine.
Kaelyn finally accesses her dead father’s laboratory and finds that he created an untested vaccine for the deadly flu before he was murdered. With the island no longer under quarantine, Kaelyn knows she must get the notes and samples to mainland scientists who can recreate it, if humanity is to have any hope of survival. But the mainland is more devastated than she imagined. The novel’s title can refer both to the mass deaths and, more poignantly, to the pre-flu world Kaelyn mourns—the desire to return civilization to what was lost pushes her ever forward and strengthens her resolve. Since Kaelyn is immune, the virus is less of a threat than other people; a highly organized band of survivors wishes to get the vaccine for themselves. But Kaelyn spends more time worrying about the state of her friendship with Leo than considering them. Although the prose is no longer a diary, it’s still related in the first-person—sometimes a bit too unevenly, as side characters get lost in the background, although they are ostensibly present and active. The ending sets up the next book instead of offering any resolution.
Kaelyn’s grim determination and character growth offer readers a reprieve from bleakness, leaving them ready for the next installment. (Science fiction. 12 & up)