Series: The Young World Trilogy, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Post Apocalyptic
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Pretty good
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A few months ago when I was still super busy with school, I went on a ridiculous requesting binge on Netgalley and The Young World was one of those requests. After requesting all those books and hearing back about most of them within the week, I completely forgot that I requested The Young World. In fact, when I saw the advertisements for The Young World at BEA in the showroom bathrooms (Flush... while you still can), I didn't even recognize it (but I thought the ads were absolutely hilarious). So imagine my complete surprise when I received an email from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers via Netgalley telling me that I was approved for The Young World. It was probably more exciting because I didn't even remember requesting it, but that's besides the point.
The Young World is about a society in which a Sickness kills all the adults and children, leaving a world filled with teenagers, and when the teenagers reach adulthood, they also catch the Sickness and die. So basically everyone is dying and there isn't much hope for the world because all the adults who knew how to work things like electricity and water are all dead and no one really understands how to combat this virus. I know, sounds like the ideal living situation to me too.
The story is told through alternating perspectives between Jefferson and Donna and it follows their motley group's adventure through New York City to find a cure for the Sickness. I definitely felt like the two different voices were distinct and I never got confused about which character was narrating. Between Jeff, Donna, and the rest of their group, there is a really wide variety of characters: Jeff is half Japanese, SeeThrough is a Chinese immigrant, BrainBox has some sort of behavioral disorder, and Peter is African American and gay. Obviously the characters are so much more than those descriptions, but I really felt like the diverse group was a good representation of the type of people who would be living in downtown New York City, and I appreciated how Weitz doesn't make their differences a huge plot point.
Obviously since the narrators are Jeff and Donna, most of the story focuses on them. Jefferson is a character who is shown as a leader from the very beginning. Besides being a leader, Jeff is also a big thinker. Throughout the story, it's very clear that surviving isn't really enough for him - he wants to save the world and raise it anew, better than before. Jeff's narration is consumed by a lot of his big thoughts. It seemed pretty clear to me through Jeff's point of view that Weitz has a lot to say about society and it's not very subtle; I felt like there were pages of social commentary in between the actual plot actions. While I did enjoy reading those thoughts and felt it shaped Jefferson's character, it definitely slowed down the book a lot due to its abundance.
While Jeff was the big thinker, Donna was more of a wistful thinker. Sure, she wanted to survive and figure out how not to die when she becomes an adult but she mostly wished she could have back all the things that she took for granted before the Sickness. Donna is so headstrong and stubborn throughout the whole story. She's moody, she doesn't know how she feels, she's jaded, and she's tired - she feels like a girl who's tired of the world ending. Donna was such a foil to Jeff and seeing them interact throughout the story was more dynamic because of that.
When I got to the end of The Young World, I felt like everything that happened was so whirlwind and crazy. It felt a bit rushed and confusing but I can see how it adds to the confusion of Jeff and Donna at the time. Even though the ending isn't really a cliffhanger since the characters are not in immediate danger, the end of The Young World left me craving more of the story.
Overall, while I don't really have anything bad to say about The Young World and I was pulled into the story throughout the read, I wouldn't say that I love it by any means. The Young World is a good read - it's filled with action and adventure, some romance, and the apocalypse. There is so much great gallows humor and Weitz definitely had some deep thoughts on society. I recommend The Young World to those who like apocalyptic reads, the urban setting of New York City, and some interesting, bigger thoughts about the world.
What post-apocalyptic books have you read recently?
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