Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

{July 6, 2012}   {ARC Review} Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas (Quarantine #1)

From Goodreads: It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.

A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you’re as good as dead. And David has no gang. It’s just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school.

In this frighteningly dark and captivating novel, Lex Thomas locks readers inside a school where kids don’t fight to be popular, they fight to stay alive.


This was a great story, but reader beware, you might hate most of the characters… it’s hard not to, when they’re all out for blood, turning on each other in the blink of an eye for a morsel of food.  But, it’s easy to judge them from the comfort of your own home, where you can put down the book to take a break, make yourself a huge sandwich, and then come back to it.  David doesn’t have that luxury.  Neither does Will, or Lucy, or any of the other kids quarantined in the school—except the Varsity.  The most athletic group in the school has become a violent gang, and they horde all the food.  While the other kids starve to death and attempt to trade just to survive, Varsity hunts down David and anyone who attempts to stand in their way.  And a lot of what Varsity does, led by Sam, is downright despicable (and bloody).

I spent a lot of this book in anxiety.  Worried for David, for Will, for Lucy, especially as the story goes deeper and deeper, exposing the fears and atrocities that are taking place within the school—something I truly believe would happen if an entire school of teenagers were locked together without supervision for years.  This story of survival is truly amazing, and though some of it seems far-fetched, it still drew me in and I found myself enthralled with the story.

Now, let’s talk characters.  I think Thomas did a great job vilifying a lot of the characters. I truly hate Sam for the reasons stated above, but Will is a close second.  Yes, Will is David’s brother, and David is the “hero” of the story, but Will is such a drastic opposite.  He is extremely immature (9th grader) and nearly everything he does throughout the story grated on my nerves.  In fact, he’s the reason a lot of bad things happen in the book, and I couldn’t help but shake my head at his reactions and impulsive decisions.  On the surface, when we first meet him, he seems like a genuine good guy, but by the end of the novel, I really couldn’t stand him anymore—and if this is what Thomas wanted his readers to feel, then he was dead on!  And Will and Sam aren’t the only villains.  There are many, many more, too numerous to count, actually, but there are also truly good characters, like David and Lucy, and many of The Loners as well, that help offset the evil characters and make it an enjoyable read.

Thomas’ book is not short by any means, though with all the action within the novel, it doesn’t seem long at all.  The story shifts somewhat quickly, from the explosion, to some fights, and then it advances a full year in a blink of an eye, but I honestly think the author needed to do that in order to keep the novel at a relatively normal length (I’m scared off by books that are much more than 400 pages).  And, with an ending like that of Quarantine: The Loners, I am very excited for the next book in the installment, Quarantine: The Saints.  I can’t wait, actually. Four stars.

4 stars

Egmont USA has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on July 10, 2012.


[…] I’ve said, the novel itself is extremely well done, as are the two novels that come before it, The Loners and The Saints. I love David, and always have, and I’m glad he’s back in the picture in […]

Oooohhh, good review!! This sounds very good! Somehow I missed any notice of this book. I’m so glad to have read your review! It sounds rather dark, which I actually like in books. Plus the whole idea of the kids being infected with a virus that is toxic to adults is very intriguing. Besides, it sounds like high school taken to the 10th circle of Hell, doesn’t it?!?! Much like what we all envisioned our own high school experiences were like, I’m sure … without the hoarding of food and violence and blood, but still… :) Thanks!!

Bonnie says:

I’ve found some of my favourite characters end up being either despicable or persoanility types I would never associate with in real life. Sometimes the unpleasant characters bring more to the story, offering a level of depth an easily likeable character wouldn’t.
Your warnings are heeded, but this sounds like a story right up my alley.

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