Welcome to New York, a city ruled by teens. After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he’s secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind. The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park …and discovers truths they could never have imagined. - Goodreads
Title: The Young World
Author: Chris Weitz
Published: July 29th 2014
Source: An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
CONTAINS VERY MINOR SPOILERS
I know exactly what you are thinking when you read the description for this book - ‘I’ve heard it all before’. And I thought the exact same thing - I immediately thought ofGone by Michael Grant. However, The Young World proved to me that a book does not have to be particularly new, in terms of ideas, to be a good read.
It tells the story of life after It Happened - a Sickness that killed all the adults and little kids, but the teenagers survive because of their hormones. Okay so maybe you have to suspend your disbelief slightly but the story does work.The teens have formed tribes, and The Young World is about a group of teens from a tribe trying to find a cure for the Sickness. My favourite part about this book is the plot. It is gripping, tense and you will keep reading to find out what happens next. It’s why I love Dystopia, although the genre is quite exhausted. There are lots of exciting scenes contrasted with the right amount of calm, character building ones so that it doesn’t turn into an all-action-no-plot kind of book. I loved the tribes. The interaction between the protagonists’ tribe and others is really fascinating and I think the way Weitz showed how different people reacted in different ways to the end of the world was very interesting. Interwoven with this is the overarching plot to find a cure. It’s deliciously addictive - you always want to know what they are going to encounter next.
The pacing of this story was excellent until the ending which I felt was a bit too rushed. I felt that the pinnacle of their journey deserved more time to develop into where the second book will head. The cliffhanger, although a tad predictable, was very enjoyable. The plot and the pacing were the highlights of this book for me.
It is told from the viewpoints of two of the main characters - Jefferson and Donna. I enjoyed both of their contrasting narrative styles at first - with Jefferson being mature and intelligent but with doubts and Donna yearning for the past by using LOTS of pop culture references and the word ‘like’ frequently - I thought it was great how Weitz reflected the teenage use of language. However, as the book went on I started to dislike Donna’s narrative. She’s very rude and bitter, and I started to find her voice very grating. I think the book would have been better if told simply from Jefferson’s perspective.
I enjoyed the characters but only to an extent. I think the racial, gender and sexual orientation diversity was really great and also the tension that emerges within these groups. However certain characters such as Peter - a gay African American, were very stereotypical and others such as SeeThrough had great potential, but were not developed enough. However, the biggest character problem I had was with Donna. At the start she is described as a girl-power feminist but I found her treatment of the rape survivor Kath shocking. I understand that she felt threatened by her but as girl in this now brutal world, surely she could be more empathetic to her situation? As a reader, you’re meant to like the narrator protagonist, even agree with their opinions. Which is why I completely did not understand Donna’s treatment of Kath. I generally did not think the rape theme was treated well within this book.
Overall, a wonderfully addictive read despite some problems proving that a dystopian does not need to bring anything new to the table to be a good book.
What were your opinions of this book? :)