Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas is a dark yet captivating novel. Thomas locks readers inside a school where kids don’t fight to be popular, they fight to stay alive. Think Lord of the Files with a modern twist.
The novel begins with the first day of school at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. Truth be told, the disaster scenario, is a bit unrealistic. And the love triangle between David Thorpe, his brother Will and Lucy is a bit cliché. With that said, I really did enjoy this book. “If there was anything to be said for McKinely high, it was that, with enough time, it revealed the truth about everyone.” I think this quote sums up the book nicely. And the many mini-cliffhangers keep the book fun and interesting.
It is not for the faint of heart. There were more than a few times where I had to put the put down because the death and/or mutilation of a student was just enough graphic and senseless that I needed a break. Thomas does a great job of showing how ordinary students in a desperate situation will do extraordinary things. As one kid puts it “yeah, well, none of us are like we used to be, are we?”
“Lucy had assumed that Violent grew up someplace rough, like an evil orphanage or some war-torn foreign country. Maybe in a jungle. But not Hillcreast. It was one town over from Pale Ridge. It was full of yogurt shops and gold clubs and had wide black roads that were repaved every two years. People from Hillcrest weren’t tough.”
I’ve read other reviews of Quarantine where they complain that the scenario of kids being left in a high school to fend for themselves is unbelievable and somehow hurt the credibility of the book. It’s a Sci-Fi fantasy novel. It’s not important whether or not it can or cannot happen in the ‘real’ world. It’s important that the author can sell this idea in the story, which Lex Thomas does and does it well. I can honestly say that I was so engrossed in what was happening in McKinely High that I forgot about the outside world. While reading the book, never once did I think about the ‘adults’ or the outside world because I was too busy dealing with all the stuff happening inside the high school. Thomas does a great job of selling the idea that “graduation was the most important event in a McKinely student’s life. You’d made it through. You’d earned your freedom.” Yet, I have a feeling that freedom isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be in this universe and we will get to see what the outside world is like in book 2.