I love a good controlled-environment doomsday scenario as much as (or probably more than) the next person. And this book delivers what it promises: a bunch of people, trapped in a mall, threatened by a bomb (which, technically? not a bomb in the sense you're probably thinking... but I'm close to saying too much).
My biggest problem with the book is that, while the cultural references work perfectly right now, they'll be outdated within a couple years... a decade at the very best. The teenagers' iPods are mentioned, and one of them gets a drawing tablet and refers to a very specific graphics card. Okay, the average reader won't know the difference between the name of the graphics card in the original Apple computer and the one that will come out next year, but still... my point remains valid. This drops off a little when, in the plot, phones and internet are cut out, but it's a tiny bit distracting now... it'll be very distracting in several years.
One of the important characteristics of YA fiction is taking power away from the adults somehow. (This is the driving idea behind all main characters in Disney movies having one or two dead parents.) It is briefly alluded to a couple times that the adults (especially the elderly) are in hiding because the teens take over the mall during the lockdown, but it just doesn't feel real enough. It's like the only adults who visit the mall are completely useless and easily give in to the whims of high school students. I suppose one could argue that it's because the adults are more willing to obey the instructions given to them, but that isn't said. Or even implied very well. So I don't fully believe it.
Other than those two things - the soon-to-be-outdated technology references and the roll-over-and-take-it adults - I enjoyed the book quite a bit. It's a very quick read, it delivers what it promises, and there are sequels, and I want to read them. The ending promises interesting developments to come.
So... I really wasn't sure how I would feel about this book. I mean, it looked interesting enough, but mall epidemic? How does that even work?
Wonderfully. It works freakin' wonderfully.
The thing that I liked best about this book? It pretty much relays how something like this would happen. Calm crowds at first, but then they freak out. There are certain people and clicks that come out on top and relationships are forged based on survival. And things get CRAZY in this mall, where people are trapped for a week.
I was expecting to be a little more... panicked feeling. I've had books where they're so well done, you feel like you're going to contract the disease any second, and this wasn't that. It was real, but not so real it made my skin crawl.
That being said, Lorentz was AWESOME at the shock factor. He managed to throw something in there that you weren't expecting. We all know that I'm usually pretty good at predicting endings (whether I want to or not), so I was impressed.
It's a really good book, and I really think I'm actually going to pick the second one up.