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Cybils Mini Reviews: Plague Edition featuring Reboot by Amy Tintera and A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer

The month of December finds me busily trying to read over 200 YA Speculative Fiction books for the 2013 Cybils (which are awesome).  I had read a lot of the nominated books, but not all.  So now I am happily playing catch up.  Today I present mini reviews on two books that have a plague theme: A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer and Reboot by Amy Tintera.  As you know, I love a good epidemic: see Epidemics list 1 and list 2.

First up: Reboot by Amy Tintera
Tagline: 5 years ago, I died. 178 minutes later, I woke up.

First of all, this is technically a zombie novel.  Why did you not tell me this people?  You know I love a good zombie novel.  A plague causes people to die and then they wake up later “different”.  Not traditional zombie, because they can talk and think, but with varying degrees of emotion.  The longer you are dead, the less emotion you seem to have.  Reboots are a threat to the population, so they are rounded up by the government (it’s always the government) where they are “employed” as soldiers sent out to track down other reboots and criminals.  So you have your dystopian element happening here.

Wren 178 is so named because it took her 178 minutes to reboot after death.  She is considered a machine, the go to reboot for dangerous assignments.  Lower numbers have more emotions, and 178 is the highest number there is in the reboot dorm.  But soon everything she thought she knew about herself, about the reboots, and about the world in which she lives is tested when she meets and agrees to train Callum 22 and she is given a secret assignment that goes terribly wrong.

I liked and highly recommend this book.  I thought it was an interesting twist on the zombie novel and can be used as a springboard discussion starter on human rights, understanding those that are different from us, and the role of government in society.   This book can really spark a lot of science and ethics discussions.  There is a lot of good stuff in there in terms of character arcs and emotional growth, action for those wanting a little action, and a little romance for those who want that as well.  Pair this with Blackout by Robison Wells and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for a great discussion about government.

Second up: A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer
Tagline: Will you be a survivor or a statistic?

On the 56th day of the Blustar Pandemic, Nadia’s mother dies and her and her younger brother, Rabbit, set out to cross the country on their own to find their grandfather and uncle as instructed in a letter.   What ensues is basically the road trip from hell: Nadia is barely 16 and can’t technically drive and she is suddenly tasked with getting her little brother safely through the elements in a barren world populated by the few that survive, and they are often less than helpful.  At several intervals they meet various groups that try to rob them, imprison them, and more.  And they save a few people along the way.

There really isn’t anything new or cutting edge here, but A Matter of Days is a good survival story for those interested in that genre (raises hand).  I really liked the relationship between Nadia and Rabbit and they way they both grew under the very real pressures they now faced, and how they sometimes fell apart.  I also liked that they picked up a teenage boy, Zach, and there was no dreamy staring into his eyes or insta-love because the needs of immediate survival and that initial distrust was there.  Thank you Amber Kizer for that.

The Mr. also picked up and read this book and he liked it.  In particular, he liked the sparse storytelling style which stressed the urgency of their situation (and I agree) and he just liked the voice of the characters.  It’s very readable, great I think for reluctant readers, and I think teens will come away from it satisfied.

I love those claustrophobic feeling books where there are only a few characters on the page and you just have to be fully invested in their story.  See also: Ashfall by Mike Mullin, These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, and In Honor by Jessi Kirby.

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