Young World is a big hit among my high school readers. The premise is that two years ago, a virus wiped out the young and old, leaving teens (13-17 yr olds) in New York to fight for survival in a world with no future. Jefferson inherits the leadership of his community when his older brother reaches adulthood and, as expected, dies. In a bid to put off the necessary decisions that come with leading, he decides to go on a scavenging expedition for a scientific journal that might be the answer to the virus. While the concept was interesting, I didn’t care for the execution. If you are old enough to have died from this virus, you can probably skip this one. It seemed like adult readers felt this had all been done before. If, however you would have survived to roam the streets of New York letting your freak flag fly, this is a book you might want to check out.
After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he’s secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.
The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park…and discovers truths they could never have imagined.
The Young World by Chris Weitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I gave this book four stars because every high school student, male and female, who has picked it up has recommended it to me, so it is engaging its target audience. The action is non stop, and the characters are recognizeable stereotypes of every teen you have ever known. It was funny and shocking and a new horror was around every corner. There was even a lot to think about in regard to current social issues, which are highlighted by the ideologies that the different tribes adopt. While my students had no complaints, I have to say that I was really turned off by one of the narrators — she drove me crazy for a while, but her narrative voice does become more readable after the first few chapters. Jefferson was also a problem for me because he felt under developed and flat — there was no growth for him as a character. Why is he a major character, much less a narrator, if the reader isn’t going to be privy to those thoughts and feelings that show he is getting something out of all he experiences? I am still thinking about the ending. It was so unexpected and inexplicable that I feel cheated. There is a lot of mature language and a lot of mature situations, so this is a grade 10 and up read.