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Virulent: The Release by Shelbi Wescott

Virulent: The Release

by Shelbi Wescott

Series: Virulent (1)

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I'll be posting a review over at Dragonfly Reads, but I will say it was a decent book and if you like this genre, you will enjoy the simplistic take. ( )
  autumnturner76 | Sep 23, 2014 |
I'll be posting a review over at Dragonfly Reads, but I will say it was a decent book and if you like this genre, you will enjoy the simplistic take. ( )
  AutumnTurner | Dec 29, 2013 |
I'm a sucker for a good apocalyptic, dystopian or speculative novel. I love reading about someone's vision of what the future could be. I love books that make me think and keep me on my toes. I love a book that shows realistic reactions to crazy situations. I love a book that can make me feel like I'm watching a movie because the imagery is so vivid. The Release was all of these things. This is a fantastic entry to a series that I expect will only get better.

Lucy is an average teenager about to leave on vacation with her family. Realizing she has left her homework behind, she returns to the school only to find that it is in lockdown and some of her fellow classmates have died horrible deaths. A virus is sweeping the earth and killing everyone. Lucy and a small group of survivors are trapped inside the school by the principal who has become paranoid and won't let anyone in or out. What follows is the story of how Lucy and the others survive, how they deal with the loss of their families and friends, how they plan to escape, and what the heck is going on outside the school.

The imagery in this book is stunning in a very bleak and sometimes gory kind of way. The descriptions of the bodies, the symptoms of the virus, the descriptions of the rooms they are confined to - everything is described in a way that not only makes you see it, but also smell and hear and feel what the characters do. She weaves in details that really round out the picture as well: what they eat, how they use the bathroom, how they sleep, etc. Ms. Wescott did a wonderful job of really pulling the reader into her settings and situations.

The characters were also very well done. They read like real people instead of stereotypes of typical teenagers. Their reactions to their situation vary widely from person to person - some going into shock, some crying, some comforting, some in denial, etc. - just as they would in real life. There''s really no romance in this book and while I know some people may be disappointed in the lack of swoon-worthy moments, I really didn't miss it. I think romantic elements would have taken away from the overall feel of the book and gravity of the situation. It was refreshing for me to read a book where the author didn't feel the need to add romantic elements just because they are expected to be there. Don't worry, though. There are hints that romance could develop later on in the series.

The plot itself was exciting and suspenseful enough to keep me wanting more. There are a lot of dystopian and post-apocalyptic books out that deal with environmental and societal issues but the idea of bio-terrorism is one that I haven't seen explored all that much in YA fiction. Although the origin of the virus is not revealed in this first book of the series, the virus itself is insidious enough to be the villain while hinting at a bigger conspiracy to be revealed as the series continues.

There were a few minor things in this book that didn't sit well with me. The first is the principal. After the virus hits he becomes a psychopath who demands complete control and has extreme reactions to the increasingly disturbing events. I see what the author was doing with this character (I don't want to spoil anything so I won't elaborate) but I find it hard to believe that someone with a personality like his would have been hired for a position in a school. Then again, we hear about horrible things happening with teachers in schools all the time now, so what do I know? Another thing that seemed a little off to me was the school's security system. This school has the most advanced security system I've ever heard of in a school including security gates that seal off sections of the school. Again, this may be more of a personal thing because I don't know of any schools in my area with security like that. In other areas maybe this is the norm. The extreme security in the school caused a little bit of inconsistency, though. When Lucy is returning to the school for her homework, she thinks it will be easier to sneak in rather than go through the security checks and such. The pool has been closed due to budget cuts and there's a supply closet with an exit to the outside. Kids use it as a secret way to enter/exit the school. It seems to me that a school with such a focus on security would not have overlooked this door. None of these things were major things and none of them really detracted from my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book and found it to be an original take on the post-apocalyptic genre. Great characters, amazing descriptions, suspense and the beginnings of a great conspiracy mark this beginning to a series that I look forward to following. I can't wait for book two. ( )
  CherieReads | Sep 23, 2013 |
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