Alex has planned a hike into the woods to say goodbye to her parents, who were killed years earlier as well as attempt to come to terms with her own personal demons, or as Alex called it the monster in her brain. Alex has a terminal brain tumor which is beyond the help of treatment, even experimental treatment. Alex is not too sure how much longer she has left to live. Happening in only a split second, a large electromagnetic pulse flashes overhead eliminating the world’s electricity. Alex herself has changed whether for the good or bad, the pulse has changed the world and chaos has ensued; now Alex is trying everything she can to survive.
I did not realize that the protagonist within this novel was going to 17 when I picked it up and honestly just based upon her age I would have not read this book, as YA is not a genre I venture into (my own fault for not reading the premise of the book...oops, went purely on instinct on this pick). I actually thought that I was picking up an adult horror/dystopia, which is a genre that a really love and have not read too much of late. However, I was glad that I picked it up. I found for the most part that Alex's life and experiences aged her mentally beyond her years that I was able to relate to her in some ways.
I personally would not classify this novel as a horror. I did not have that scared, need to keep the lights on feeling as I was reading it. I think that this is due to the lack of overall suspense within the novel. There were events where you know that Bick is trying to create suspenseful moments, however, I did not feel that she was able to actually get there. However, I did like that none of the characters (outside of Alex) were truly safe to the events that were happening around them. These characters could be there one moment and not the next, which adds to the sense of never knowing what could happen next, just the scenarios in which these events occurred did not reach a suspenseful state for me. (Not too sure if that makes sense, but I never felt like I was sitting on the edge of my seat Needing to know what happened next, I had already figured it out).
During the latter parts of the book I lost my ability to relate to Alex. Alex became the whiny teenager who is only thinking about herself. I had come to like Alex and her ability to survive but I found that I was unable to relate to her in this part of the book. Instead of challenging things like an adult (basically how she had been portrayed through most of the book, minus some insecurities in the romance department) Bick decided that now would be the point that Alex would act as a teen. I understand that this is a YA novel, but if you spend the majority of the book with your teen acting like an adult as this is their character to do so, then I think that Bick should have continued on this path. I think that by continuing to have Alex act like an adult would have made the flow of the story more consistent as well as keep me engaged with Alex's character. I also found it strange that Alex could not figure out what had happened to "monster" in her brain and how the treatments that she had had in the past would have changed with the flash. If the reader can figure it out right away, there is no reason that Alex should not be able to.
I wish that Bick would have been more consistent in her character portrayal of Alex, however, she does leave the end of the story at a cliff-hanger so I am going to read the next book in the series but it is not at the top of my list. I think that those people who do enjoy dystopia YA novel (either young or old readers) will like this novel, but I think if you do not normally read within the YA genre you may want to leave this one alone.