Lawson (Counteract, 2015, etc.) continues to delve into a terrifying world of conspiracy and totalitarianism in this YA thriller, the second in her Resistance series.
Picking up immediately after the events of Counteract, this sequel throws readers into the action, as Tommy Bailey and Careen Catecher have become scapegoats for the American government and the powerful Office of Civilian Safety and Defense. It would be bad enough if they’d only interrupted a press conference and informed the public that the OCSD’s latest project—an antidote to a terrorist chemical weapon—was a hoax designed to drug and control the populace. But the director of the agency died on camera just after Careen’s shocking announcement, so she has become public enemy No. 1. While much of the first volume dealt with mystery and investigation, the stakes have only become higher in this sequel, as the confused and frightened lovers must fight for their lives and figure out how they fit into the anti–OCSD Resistance. Of course, even once the most immediate danger recedes, the Resistance fails to provide a perfect safe haven, with internal strife, confusion, treachery, and jealousy causing a wide array of problems for the couple. On top of all that, there’s the nightmare of Madalyn Davies, the wolfish new head of the OCSD and the person responsible for much of Careen and Tommy’s predicament. In a world where so few individuals have any power at all, a villain who abuses and hoards hers to such an extent is all the more striking. The setting of the series becomes even more intriguing here, as it’s difficult to imagine going against an unjust government when citizens have already given up nearly all of their basic rights and freedoms in the name of safety. The perspective of the Resistance and some forays into Tommy’s and Careen’s families and pasts also allow for a greater exploration of what they’ve really lost, driving the severity of their situation home even more than in the initial book. Character and setting were great strengths of the first installment, but they’re given even greater depth here, imparting surprise and insight with every page turned.
An adrenaline rush of a novel about an oppressive America that promises more to come.