The story opens on Day 56 of the Blustar Pandemic, a virus that killed 95% of the world’s population. Sixteen year-old Nadia and her younger brother, Rabbit, have watched their mother finally succumb to the virus and are now left on their own. They need to make their way across the U.S., from their home in Seattle all the way to West Virginia, to meet up with their uncle and grandfather, who are their only remaining family.
So, this falls into the category of a journey/road trip sort of post-apocalyptic adventure, which is one of my favorite kinds. The two kids head out from their home, past all the empty houses in their neighborhood, as Nadia very quickly learns to drive. As they make their way across the U.S., they face survival situations – needing to find food, shelter, and stay healthy – but they also face other remaining survivors, many of whom are desperate and/or violent. Along the way, they do meet up with some others, including a neglected dog, a small child, and a guy who grew up on the streets of Los Angeles, whom they aren’t sure they can trust.
I was pulled right into this suspenseful plot with likeable characters. I listened to the audio book, which was well done and engaging. The book is written in first-person in Nadia’s voice, and the narrator did a good job with it. My only criticism is that there were some convenient coincidences to help the story along: their uncle is a disease specialist in the military so he was able to send them vaccines for the virus, their father was also in the military and a survivalist, so he taught them all kinds of tips on how to survive (“be the cockroach”), and their grandfather is a paranoid anti-government person who happens to have a well-stocked survivalist compound. Then again, maybe the story wouldn’t have worked otherwise.
Despite these little contrivances, I fully enjoyed the story, and its fast pace kept me interested and entertained. I came to care about Nadia and Rabbit and cheered them on as they made their way across the deserted country, amid plenty of suspense and danger. I would like to read some of Kizer’s other novels – this is the first one I’ve read.
Listen to an excerpt: