Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sick by Tom Leveen

Title: Sick

Author: Tom Leveen

Book #: Standalone

Publisher: Amulet Books

Publish Date: October 1st 2013

Pages: n/a

Format: Kindle Edition

Date Read September 11th  2013

★★ / out of 5

I peek through one of the windows, and the other guys crowd around behind me.
"Holy...," Travis whispers.

The parking lot is a killing field.


Brian and his friends are not part of the cool crowd. They’re the misfits and the troublemakers—the ones who jump their high school’s fence to skip class regularly. So when a deadly virus breaks out, they’re the only ones with a chance of surviving.

The virus turns Brian’s classmates and teachers into bloodthirsty attackers who don’t die easily. The whole school goes on lockdown, but Brian and his best friend, Chad, are safe (and stuck) in the theater department—far from Brian’s sister, Kenzie, and his ex-girlfriend with a panic attack problem, Laura. Brian and Chad, along with some of the theater kids Brian had never given the time of day before, decide to find the girls and bring them to the safety of the theater. But it won’t be easy, and it will test everything they thought they knew about themselves and their classmates.
(Synopsis taken from Goodreads)

ReviewI received a free copy of this book for review.

Just a warning: This book contains very gory scenes, as well as heavy profanity

Technically, this is not a "zombie" book. While I will refer to the sick people as zombies, for the sake of my review, we learn that they are in fact not animated corpses. Just putting that out there!

The only "zombie" related YA books I remember in detail reading are This is Not a Test and The Infects. While I absolutely loved This is Not a Test, it felt more like a contemporary set in a zombie-turned-world, than it did a zombie action novel. The Infects was definitely closer to what I would want to see in a zombie novel, but pales in comparison to how I felt while and after reading Sick.


I think that both the characters and the story were done very well. While I have not seen The Breakfast Club, based off of this synopsis, I feel like the book does follow a similar (but not exact) plot line:
"The story line follows five teenagers, each a member of a different high school clique, as they spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all more than their respective stereotypes." Taken from Wikipedia.

The story follows Brian and his group of friends as they discover themselves trapped in their high school while the majority of the student body turn into mad, flesh-eating zombies right before their eyes. They see their friends succumb to the sickness, get eaten by the zombies, and face the inevitable unknown of what is becoming of the rest of the world. Cut off from their friends, families and homes, this diverse group of stereotypical students barricade themselves in the drama department.

Brian's largest concern, after trying to not get his face eaten by his former high school-ers, is that his sister and ex-girlfriend are safe. All he knows for most of the book is that they are not with him, and are possible no longer alive.
"If there's a chance I can do something to get my sister out of here, I'm taking it. We didn't go through a year of hell together just to lose each other now. I don't know how, and I don't care, but I'm going to fin her and get her out of here. Laura too."
I really enjoyed seeing Brian battle between saving himself, or saving those he cared about. In the end, Brian always chose the latter. He decided to brave the outside and face the hordes in order to find his sister, then again to find his ex, and yet again to make sure that they get the group to safety. That last major scene where Brian puts his life in the line of danger was very heroic, and I found it a fitting way to end the story as I had overall admired his character throughout the entire book.

The other side characters are great. This is where I can image The Breakfast Club reference. While, again, I have not seen the movie, it appears to be a group of high school-ers from different parts of the food chain, who are in a situation where they are all mixed together. In Sick, we don't see too many different stereotypes, but the most obvious ones are the "gay kid", "the drama kids" and "the punk". These are portrayed by the characters Travis, Jaime and his group, and Chad.

These characters did not get along at all in the beginning, and for most of the book many insults are thrown around. It wasn't until the very end that we see a change in their personalities, as they have been through Hell together. 

By far, my favorite aspect of this book is the science. Brian's mother is a scientist (doctor?) who is working very closely to with the outbreak and, since he has the only working phone, we are in contact with her a few times throughout the book. Every time she is brought into the conversation, we get bits and pieces of the whats and whys of this infection. There is a lot of explanation, actually, so here is just a snippet:
"..something strange happened in Arroyo. Several days ago, by the looks of it. Some kind of outbreak. Our preliminary findings indicate an unknown pathogen. A bacteria similar to the one found in patients with septic arthritis. Patient Zero may have been an older diabetic man suffering from gout."

Also, just the mention of the CDC is enough to make my nerd-senses tingle!

As the book ends, the story doesn't. The problem is never solved. There isn't a miracle cure found in the last few pages of the book that cures everyone. The are still sick. People are still dying. And the characters we meet are left off still trying to survive. It is because of this ending that I almost wish for a sequel. Especially after This is Not a Test left off with a very similar open ending.

Overall, this is by far one my new favorite books, zombie or not! And I hope that, even if it doesn't meet your expectations, you will still enjoy it.


"What's up, Kenzie?" Chad says. He tugs on a smile, disfiguring his face.
Kenzie shrugs. Chad tries not to pout. 

Kenzie, the delicate flower, swears and shoves a hand into my sternum, knocking my breath out for one heartbeat. She hates it when I call her Mack. 

We rarely have any weather besides freaking hot or pretty nice out.

Freaking high school, man.

"I'm in the mood for anything whose instructions include the phrase 'Until golden brown.'"
"Golden brown,
" I say. "That could be your rap star name."
And we all laugh like the idiots we are. Ditching kicks ass.

"I'm not ditching her," I say. "I don't ditch people. Not unless they ditch me first."

"Jack, do you hear yourself when you talk?"
"Eh. I tune in and out."

"Woah!" Jack shouts, and ducks like the helicopter is going to land on him. Then he climbs into the backseat and shuts the door. "Man, they were hauling ass. Get to the choppah! Mooove! Go!" he shouts through the window in his best Schwarzenegger voice, which doesn't amount to much.

"Sup, Jay-me?" Chad says, giving Jaime a jab to the shoulder as we walk past.
Jaime shuts his eyes, like he's counting to ten or something. "It's Hi-may, you ass factory. Hi. May."
"Well, hi may or hi may not!"

"... shit" Travis finishes.
"You're gonna need a bigger boat," Chad whispers. I'm so scared, I actually snicker. 

"We don't know if anyone's comin' to get us at all," Chad points out.
"They will," Jaime says.
He stars climbing up the stairs.
"The will," he says again.
If he'd just said it once, I'd buy it. But that second time... I don't think he believes it himself.

"The one with the big-ass white peace symbol on the window?
Damon nods.
"Is that even a little bit ironic considering you have a gun under the seat?"
"I'm a pretty complicated gentleman," Damon says with a sick grin.

Being a teenager sucks. You're not an adult, but not really a kid anymore. We spend most of our time pushing for all the adult stuff. Cars and money and all that. But when Jaime says homelike that, I swear to god I stop to six years old because I understand instantly what he means.
I just want to go home too.

"We handles the food issue first," Jaime says. "Then we talk rescue operation, recon, and escape."
"Wow," Chad says. "That kinda gives me a boner, I'm not gonna lie."

The kid leaps, arms outstretched. It looks for one moment like his teeth have grown longer; then I realize it's that his gums have eroded.
Jesus, what is this shit?

"Fuckin' zombies," he says.
"Yeah," I say.

"Do you know anything more about this infection yet? What are we dealing with?
Mom sighs again. "The bacteria shares traits with Group A streptococcus, which leads to necrotizing fasciitis."
"I'm sorry, can we get that in American?" Cammy says.
"Flesh-eating disease," Mom says after a pause.

I did not believe any of us were going to get out of here alive. Kenzie's gaze was sharp, glinting. There are also circles under her eyes, and I imagine mine don't look much different. But you don't go through something like she did without getting something out of it. In her case, I think it's fearlessness. Strength. 

"Fuck anyone who wants to give up. Not me. Not ever, not on anyone. We have to be better than them."

"Well... do you feel like killing someone?" Jaime goes.
"Just you, nutsack."
Cammy snorts. "Sounds healthy to me."

"And then when we found out you matched, you just said yes. Just said it. That made me want to fight again. I was so tired, but I wanted to fight for you because you were going to fight for me."

"It's Chad o'clock, motherfuckers!" he howls, and even though I'm about to fight for my life, I start laughing me ass off. Laughing, or shrieking.

Before I can get up, another infected kid jumps towards me, mouth open, teeth glittering, bone sticking out of his front arm. I figure he'll be the last think I see as I hear a thousand voices screaming my name into the cold winter November air.
All right, I hear myself think. This is it. This is how it ends.

A thousand and one action movies unspool in my mind, starring me as the Hero: ways I could have tried to save everyone, ways I could have done something- or everything- different. 

"Who are we? I mean, who are we now?"
My sister doesn't answer for a minute. Finally, she just whispers, "I love you.
I squeeze my eyes shut and try to stop shaking.
"I love you too."

Maybe someday life will somehow get back to normal. Maybe someday they can save Hollis. Maybe me and Kenzie and Laura and Cammy... and Travis and Serena and even John, all of them, every last one of them, we'll head out together. Sit on a roof like at Chad's this morning. No- no, on the ground. We'll sit together on the ground and eat cookies and microwave pizza.
Maybe someday... I'll be human.

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