Thursday, July 28, 2016

YA Survivalist Tale - set in a high school

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12620969-the-loners?from_search=true
The Loners (Quarantine #1), Lex Thomas
This month Walker re-launched this book, heralded as a modern-day Lord of the Flies.  This boded both promising and ill, for me.  A better Lord of the Flies sounded super (e.g. The Maze Runner), but another misogynistic survival tale?  I could do without.  Sadly, it's more the latter.  The book succeeds where Lord of the Flies didn't for me -- it's gripping -- but it fails at being fair or believable.  
  • What's unfair?  Golding's island consisted of male-only inhabitants.  This high school does not.  But the females present did nothing to improve the scenario.  They are horrible types conjured by Lex Thomas (a writing duo) who appear to only find a place in the established society so long as they traffic themselves or latch on to male characters (the ones really running things).  Not only is the female characterisation abysmal, the objectification of these characters in the male gaze is really sad.  It reminded me of The Chocolate War, but also...an immature 14-year-old's run-down of "types of girls."  You know it's bad when the only all-girl factions that emerge are "The Pretties" or "The Sluts."  That's shameful, Lex Thomas!  I don't care how extreme this environment is, that oversimplification is insane.  Or the world is insane.  I can't decide.
  • The science in this was bad, but like Reboot, I was gripped enough that I suspended disbelief fairly readily (occasionally it was distracting in its weakness).
  • There was certainly suspense, great turns, and fast pacing all book.  I wanted to read to the end.  
  • The concept was appealing.  High school stereotypes aside (because BOY oh boy were there loads), it felt like a mixture of the TV series Containment meets Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games.  I have never seen The Purge, but based on its trailer, I feel like this is a high school version of that, because...
  • ...it reads like a horror movie.  I wouldn't recommend this to...anyone I can think of.  Not only is it gritty and nightmarish, it is graphically violent, laced with swearing, there is alcohol and drug use, and it has a lot of unpleasant sexual references (including attempted and referenced-but-not-witnessed rape).
  • The writing isn't beautiful, but it is tidy (not repetitive at all) and smart.  Scenes are set particularly well.
  • It is a shame that the "normal" set up for the world of the characters (the happy life to be interrupted by the apocalyptic event) is drinking at a party.  This lacked creativity to me.
  • I do love the early aspects of the economy that develops.
I tapped out of Book 2 a third of the way in because it felt very same-same, and I didn't want more, I wanted progress.  If you finish Book 1, I can explain what I mean.  Book 3 was slightly better at the opening, but ultimately I quit it too.  One book was enough.  I enjoyed reading The Locked Room formula, but didn't feel uplifted by it and didn't need to get back in there for more.


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