Life As We Knew It meets Lord of the Flies in a mall that looks just like yours
A biological bomb has just been discovered in the air ducts of a busy suburban mall. At first nobody knows if it’s even life threatening, but then the entire complex is quarantined, people start getting sick, supplies start running low, and there’s no way out. Among the hundreds of trapped shoppers are four teens.
These four different narrators, each with their own stories, must cope in unique, surprising styles, changing in ways they wouldn’t have predicted, trying to find solace, safety, and escape at a time when the adults are behaving badly.
This is a gripping look at people and how they can–and must–change under the most dire of circumstances.
And not always for the better.
Let me be clear here – I can’t think of anything worse than being locked in a mall for days or weeks with a bunch of strangers. As a known misanthrope, this is a complete nightmare scenario for me. Granted it’s probably one of the better places you could be stuck in case of a disaster…at least, you would think so. On one hand, you have pretty much anything you could need from food to hygiene items to comfortable places to sleep. On the other hand, you’d be literally am0ng the unwashed masses. No thanks. I’ll take my chances in my own home.
Of course, in No Safety In Numbers the people don’t really have a choice. After an “incident” they are locked down inside the mall for an indeterminate period of time, given very little information about why they’re being basically held captive, and essentially left to their own devices. There is a government official stuck inside the mall with them and she has decided that the people are on a “need to know” basis and they don’t need to know. As you can imagine, the longer this scenario goes on the more of a problem this becomes for the hapless mall-goers.
The story is told from the perspective of four different teenagers – Marco, Lexi, Ryan and Shay. These characters are likeable to varying degrees and in spite of being from the same age group they have very little in common. They come from different families, ethnic groups, etc. There are also minor characters, like Shay’s parents (her mother is the aforementioned government official) and Ryan’s football teammates Drew and Mike, who are hideous little weasels.
The thing about No Safety In Numbers that struck me is that I honestly believe this is pretty close to how people would behave in a situation like this. Or maybe even a little better. Trust me, I like to believe in the general goodness of my fellow man but I’ve seen how people act during emergencies. It’s generally not good. Throw in fear of the unknown to the mix and everybody will go off the rails. No Safety In Numbers is a feasible book. It’s not a post-apocalyptic scenario, it’s a far-fetched but real world scenario, and that’s what made it a little scary for me.
I didn’t realize going in that it was the first book in a series and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it and I’ll be reading subsequent books. I think it could have been wrapped up in one but who am I to say?