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October 15, 2012 / milesandhisfavorites

Quarantine #1: Sleeper Hit or Disappointment?

When it comes to dystopian and post-apocalyptic books, a common scenario is a plague.  Whether it’s Charlie Higson’s The Enemy or Stephen King’s always-perfect The Stand, plagues and pandemics provide a believable setup, and lead to a lot of interesting takes on the concept.  Still, I was very skeptical of Quarantine Book 1: The Loners as I was looking at it in a North Carolina bookshop.  But is it an overlooked masterpiece, or just another cheap knockoff of my favorite genre of all time?

The book takes place in a large high school, which, thanks to a pandemic that infects children and kills adults, has been sealed off from the outside world.  Inside, cliques run amok, from the muscular jocks of Varsity to the beautiful yellow-haired Pretty Ones.  Every two weeks, a helicopter drops food, water, and other supplies into the school.  There’s also a device that lets kids get out once the virus exits their bodies (which would kill them if they stuck around the school any longer), but I’ll get into that.  Anyway, it follows the story of two brothers who form their own gang, the Loners, and have to escape the school when the supplies stop coming.

Before you consider reading this book, you should be advised: it is not for the faint of heart.  There’s cursing, drug abuse, and extremely graphic violence, among other things.  People vomit up their lungs, are shot to bloody pulps, and are beaten to death with aluminum baseball bats.  It is a shocking and brutal book.  If you don’t like that sort of thing, this book is not right for you.  But if you like creative setups and unique little touches that you might never have thought of (using Kool-Aid as hair dye, for instance), and can overlook the excessive adult content, you might just love this book.

On the other hand, it’s over far too soon.  There’s obviously going to be more books set in this universe, but by the end, you will feel VERY underwhelmed.  We leave the school far too early!  We should have one book set entirely in the school, one book building up and containing the escape, and one book that showcases what the world outside has become.  So, pros and cons.  Pros:

  • A very unique take on the pandemic concept, with creative touches and a wide variety of characters.
  • Decently written, especially during big fight scenes.
  • The overall setup is brilliant.

Cons:

  • Graphic and violent, which is good for some, and a turn-off for others.
  • The entire third act is one big letdown.

Overall, Quarantine Book One: The Loners was a fun read.  While it left me wanting more, and a little disturbed, it still contained interesting ideas and characters that I hope to see more of in the next book.  My final rating for this one is a 7/10.  It’s a great book, and I recommend it for anyone who liked The Stand, or any post-apocalyptic book with adult themes.  I hope to see something out of this franchise.  Just take us back to the school, danggit!

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