So like any book there are positives and then there are the negatives. Fret not, however, the negatives do not weigh this down.
I always hate reviews when people describe the story and like to tell you what everything is about, so for the sake of this review, I'm about to hate myself...
This story takes place after a zombie outbreak. Don't roll your eyes, zombies are annoyingly overused these days, yes, but it's not all guts and blood. They actually take the back seat in this one. Really, the outbreak just allows for the setting we have here. So, tangent aside, this takes place in a world after a zombie outbreak. Society is back on it's feet, not to where it was before or anywhere close, but it's functioning. This virus is not like your typical zombie virus where you have an affected and they bite someone and they become infected and so on. It's a virus that lays dormant in the bloodstream of children. Yep, children. Kids don't just go around biting people and that's how it spreads. Instead, once the kids hit puberty and all those fun changes start to happen in their body, 10% of kids will mutate. The virus will take over and completely change the child - into a Beast. These are not the shambling humans with rotting flesh and a hunger for meat. No sir. Those are the Bitten. Those are what are created by Beasts. Beasts are horrific monsters that cannot be described... well, by me. I could describe word for word what the book does, but why spoil it? You read it, and then decide what's scarier - a shambling corpse, or even a quick one, or Beasts. I'll take a slow or fast corpse any day. So, the Beasts spread the active virus around. They create Bitten out of adults and they are the typical zombie you see.
So, society can just let these kids run around and do what they want. Once a kid hits puberty they are sent off to quarantines. These aren't just a cage and everyone fends for themselves, society is actually smart here. They send them to these school/prison hybrids. The kids still go to classes, take part in activities, sports, and all that jazz. They just live at school now and have armed guards around 24/7.
This is where the story starts, with one right bastard of a kid, Sam, entering quarantine. I say bastard because really, what teenager isn't? I really just mean smartass there. Anywho, this is a first person account of Sam's time in the quarantine and his journey to learn who he really is. He's just as confused as any teen, with so many people trying to influence who he is, and add to that that any one of the kids walking around him could become a monster at any time... well, things just aren't easy for him.
It took me talking to the author to really understand what the story was about. I read it and I just felt clueless, wondering where the plot was. It's about kid, that's the plot. I guess I really haven't read any coming of age stories nor do I really understand teenagers. I kept expecting Sam to just act rational and when he wasn't, well, I was confused. Call me stupid. Yeah, go ahead. Kids make no sense to me. You really do get to watch this kid try to figure out who he is and how major adult roles have played a part in who he is. I'll say kudos to that.
The ending closes up the story here pretty nicely, but at the same time it is open enough so that if the author wanted to do more with the character or universe he's created he could. There are minor questions that you could ask about it, but nothing you would feel was a plot hole. It's a precarious balance and one the author didn't have trouble with.
Now, the negative. Remember I said there were negatives? The review seemed like all was happy and super positive, but it's not. The major drawback I have with this is that I feel like the story is a little broken up. It feels like there is an "Event A," "Event B," "Event C" and so on with little in between to keep things flowing. I would have liked to have seen more development to make these events have more meaning. I'd like to have seen the whole thing drawn out over a bit more time so that we could have really felt the effects of everything that happened.
... I think that's it for the negatives. Huh.
So overall, it was a good read. You get to actually see what makes Sam who he is rather than just be told who he is. The backdrop of the story and how the world became what it is, is just flat out awesome. It's something super unique and it has me wishing the author will do more with this story. My only issue with the book is something a lot of first time authors have so I can't really be too bummed about that. I'd say read it!