Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Any Sign of Life

Carson, Rae. Any Sign of Life 
October 12th 2021 by Greenwillow Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Paige wakes up feeling very wobbly, and finds that her mother, a nurse, has attached her to an IV and she's gone through several bags of fluid. She's determined to clean up and make it to basketball practice before her mother prevents her, but she soon realizes that things are definitely not right. She knew there was a flu devastating the city of Columbus, Ohio, and knows she was coming down with it, but is shocked to discover that not only is her entire family dead from it, but most people in the entire world have succumbed. She goes to check on a neighbor and finds her dog, and makes tentative journeys out. At one grocery store, she meets Trey, whom she recognizes as a Black football standout and scholar heading to Ohio State. His mother was a medical professional, so he is able to help her, and he has also heard radio broadcasts out of Sandusky, so he knows other people are alive. The two plan on making their way there, and also come across Tanq, a Goth girl who has some major family issues and would rather be alone in the apocalyptic landscape. The virus is accompanied by weird space ship-like objects and an odd green cast to the sky. The three struggle to survive, so have little time to mourn the loss of the entire world. When they finally make it to Sandusky, they find that the reason for the devastation, as well as their survival, are more sinister and wide-reaching than they could ever imagine.
Strengths: This was a riveting, dystopian novel, and I haven't seen a good one since Oppel's Overthrow trilogy. Also, this is set in my area, and I loved all of the local details. Paige and Trey were engaging characters who were doing their best under horrific circumstances, AND they took great care of the dog. This wasn't bogged down by a lot of introspection, although there was a touching scene where Paige brought out all of the IDs of people who had helped them that she had saved, and the group reflected on people who had been lost. This took a bit of a twist at the end, and could either be a stand alone or have a sequel.
Weaknesses: As an adult, I had some issues with some things in this book: I thought Tanq's story slowed the book down, and I was a bit thrown by the cause of all of the problems. It was also really rather gross, with all of the dead bodies. The world would smell even worse than depicted, I imagine, but it was a bit hard to read. Tanq also let a fair number of f-bombs fly. Will Young Adult readers be bothered? No.
What I really think: The Columbus setting was so appealing that I am half tempted to buy this one. Will debate because of the language, although it doesn't occur until halfway into the book, and any very sensitive 6th graders will have given up reading by them due to the descriptions of the dead bodies.

Ms. Yingling

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