Tag Archives: YA book

A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer

Nadia and her brother Rabbit survive the BluStar epidemic when their Special Ops uncle injects them with an experimental vaccine. Unfortunately, their mother is not administered the vaccine in time, so they are forced to follow their uncle’s instructions on survival without any parental guidance. Using the skills that their soldier father taught them before he died in Afghanistan, the resourceful youngsters set off from their home in Washington in search of their doomsday prepped grandfather and his top secret abandoned mine in West Virginia. Along the way, they come across some of the 5% (in the entire world) that have survived the plague – grannies with shotguns who aren’t very welcoming, an intimidating homeless boy who is definitely more than meets the eye, and those guys who love living in anarchy during a disaster. In the midst of the chaos, they are offered a few chances to stay put and rebuild civilization with likeminded individuals. A chance to make a new family. Should they embrace the good that they find or press on toward the last of their family who might have not survived?

Kizer throws a few curveballs when it comes to whether the kids should trust an individual or group, but some of the people they encounter are straight out bad news, no doubt. It’s scary enough being a young person during a disaster, but the harsh reality of being a girl is addressed a few times. Because this book is geared toward pre-teens and teens, the author glosses over it a little. While she can be descriptive at times and the dialogue is believable, I wish that she hadn’t skipped some great opportunities for backstory. The book begins when the children’s mother passes away. Kizer mentions in passing the preparations that they’ve made while waiting for her to recover or die, but she writes almost nothing about the months of waiting and hiding in their homes while the outside world falls into chaos. I think she missed a big opportunity by doing this.

Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes love that a book I read is just the one book (I hate waiting for sequels to come out). But not when it feels like there could have been more. And while I know that it’s all the rage in YA right now, I think this book could have been split into at least 2 books, maybe 3. I think that the months of hiding could have easily been 1/3 or 1/2 of the first book. And the first book could have ended with their first encounter with a place to possible call home. The second book would have picked up there and shown them moving on. They have another chance to stay put, which is where the second book could have ended. Or, Kizer could have ended book 2 when they make it to the mine in West Virginia. And then I would have loved to hear more about what happens to them afterward. Boom! Book 3. But this was all we got.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It could make a pretty good movie but I don’t think it will be one.

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If We Survive by Andrew Klavan

Two girls, two boys, and a youth pastor travel to a small, impoverished village in Central America to rebuild a school. The school is little more than concrete walls with a few chairs inside. When asked how one of the walls was reduced to rubble, the locals answer Los Volcanoes. The Americans are perplexed since the village is far from any volcanoes but they don’t give it another thought. Just as they are about to go home, they are abducted by (you guessed it) Los Volcanoes, a faction of the rebel groups that are currently warring with the country’s government. Their hope lies with the ex-marine pilot who seems to not care about their dangerous predicament.

You’re probably going to hear me say this a lot on here, but I could really see this becoming a movie. And an awesome one at that. If Timothy Oliphant were younger, he’d be great as the ex-marine. I was imagining more bulk though. I suppose I would have to settle for someone like Liam Hemsworth. But honestly, he’s not rugged enough and I don’t think he can pull off the humongous chip on the shoulder that the character has. Okay, sorry. Enough with the casting wishlist. If you can’t tell already, I thought the ex-marine character was awesome. And I love movies. Moving on…

I thought all of the characters were believable. You’ve got the narrator, a 16 year old boy named Will who is scared but rises to the occasion. An annoying know-it-all of a teenage boy named Jim who sympathizes with the rebels hatred for America but stupidly believes that he can talk them into releasing the group. A prissy teenage girl (I forgot her name already… Nicki?)who does nothing but cries and screams for most of the book. And the college girl, Meredith, who is eerily Zen about everything and seems to have balls of steel. I don’t mean to ruin the book for you, but I hardly feel like mentioning the youth pastor, Ron, because he is weak and a disposable character. No need to talk about the ex-marine, Dunn, again because I will just go on and on. But basically, the man has layers. Like an onion.

Klavan sure knows how to write action. While I can’t regurgitate any awesome prose, I can tell you I can still see all the action sequences in my head. It might be because I’ve watched a lot of movies with machines guns, gore, and jungles. But honestly, I think it’s because his storytelling is descriptive yet concise. The man really knows his way around the subject material. I also found Will’s voice to be believable as well. There’s nothing worse than a grown author trying to pull off a teenage voice and failing miserably.

I don’t know if I’ll read more of this author but I would probably read this book again if it crossed my path.

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