Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

Kaelyn is living on an island that is part of Canada when an unknown virus suddenly appears.  It starts out just seemingly like a cold - sneezing, coughing.  But then it breaks down your social inhibitions.  Then the hallucinating starts, and then you're dead. Kaelyn's father, a microbiologist, is working hard to find a vaccination, but things are getting bad fast.  The island is quarantined, and even though they've been promised food and medicine from the government, no help seems to be coming.  Is it only a matter of time until the virus takes them all?

I classified this as a dystopia, but it isn't, not really.  It hasn't actually happened, so I guess it's sort of futuristic, but something like it could happen, and the world Kaelyn was in was our world today.  It isn't out of the realm of possibility.  It was particularly creepy reading it because everything that happened was possible.  It wasn't one of the "strange disease sweeps through and then everyone turns into brain eating zombies!"  It was like Outbreak.  A previously unknown virus shows up somewhere and people start dying.  It moves very fast and there isn't a whole lot of time to find a solution for it.

The book is framed as Kaelyn writing in her journal.  She writes in her journal like she's writing to her friend, Leo, who she had a falling out with and hasn't spoken to in two years.  Leo is now in school in New York, and Kaelyn is determined to renew their friendship when he comes home for Thanksgiving.  She doesn't have the chance, because long before Thanksgiving the island is quarantined.  This allowed for the story to take on a very personal and confessional tone.  We get all of Kaelyn's fear and anxiety.  She hates having to stay home with nothing to do, hates feeling helpless and scared all the time.  She wishes she was a different kind of person, who was braver and could help more. 

At first, Kaelyn believes that her father will work everything out, and that the government will take care of the people on the island as promised.  As people become more and more scared, life on the island quickly deteriorates.  When there's a riot at the pier over food, the soldiers pull out and don't come back.  Food and medicine is dropped in, but it's taken by gangs that have formed.

Kaelyn teams up with a boy from her school she never really talk to before, who has organized for food to be brought to people's homes.  Kaelyn is impressed with Gav, and their relationship grows the more time they spend together.  Of course, it's difficult to start a relationship when you constantly have to worry about the possibility of the other person dying.

There's a lot of sadness in this book, and a lot of death.  Kaelyn loses a number of people close to her.  After a certain point, as people keep dying, it becomes hard for her to process all the lose.  She does the small things she can, and tries not to give up hope.

It definitely reminded me a lot of Life As We Knew It.  It even ended in a similar way, with a little bit of hope, but things still being pretty awful.  I thought it was a bit slow to start, but I really got into it.  If you're prepared for a story that's quite the downer, I would certainly recommended this.

The Way We Fall comes out January 24, 2012.

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