Friday, April 22, 2016

Series Spotlight: No Safety in Numbers - Dayna Lorentz

I went on a reading binge at the end of last year.  It was a combination of illness, recovery, surgery, and bedrest needs, as well as getting thoroughly bored with everything on Netflix.  Unfortunately, despite my need for smart books, I couldn't handle it.  I turned to friends for recommendations and was shocked to find quite a few I hadn't read before.  The Monument 14 series was in that group, as was the Selection series.

A friend suggested a series by Lorentz and said it was heart-pounding and just a touch too realistic.  Intrigued, and in need of new books, I checked it out. (All images and blurbs from

When a strange device is discovered in the air ducts of a busy suburban mall, the entire complex is suddenly locked down. No one can leave. No one knows what is going on.

At first, there's the novelty of being stuck in a mega mall with free food and a gift certificate. But with each passing day, it becomes harder to ignore the dwindling supplies, inadequate information, and mounting panic.

Then people start getting sick.

Told from the point of view of two guys and two girls, this is a harrowing look at what can happen under the most desperate of circumstances, when regular people are faced with impossible choices. Some rise to the occasion. Some don't.

And for some - it's too late. 

The first book in the series does a good job of setting up the frustration and the fear that a mall complex and its occupants would feel finding themselves in quarantine with little information, little contact, and way too little supervision.  I was so intrigued at the thought of a mall-based chemical attack - but initially found concern in some of the more unrealistic aspects of the series.

It's Day 7 in the quarantined mall. The riot is over and the senator trapped inside is determined to end the chaos. Even with new rules, assigned jobs, and heightened security, she still needs to get the teen population under control. So she enlists Marco's help--allowing him to keep his stolen universal card key in exchange for spying on the very football players who are protecting him.

But someone is working against the new systems, targeting the teens, and putting the entire mall in even more danger. Lexi, Marco, Ryan, and Shay believe their new alliances are sound.

They are wrong. Who can be trusted? And who will be left to trust?

The virus was just the beginning.

Fans of Life As We Knew It and those who love apocalyptic plots will love this modern Lord of the Flies. The sequel to No Safety in Numbers is a pounding, relentless rush that will break your heart and keep you guessing until the end. 

Hmm.  I started to get a little disillusioned with the series at this point.  There was enough excitement in the first book to keep me reading, but man, Lorentz did an amazing job of capturing how boring it would eventually be to be stuck in the same place with your freedoms being systematically stripped on a daily basis. It truly started to feel like I'd been stuck in the mall for as long as the victims.  The series also started to darken at this point - heading into a more anarchist area.

Perfect for fans of Life As We Knew It and Michael Grant's Gone--this conclusion to the No Safety in Numbers trilogy will make your heart race, your palms sweat, and will leave you wondering exactly what you'd be willing to sacrifice in order to survive.

First--a bomb released a deadly flu virus and the entire mall was quarantined.

Next--the medical teams evacuated and the windows were boarded up just before the virus mutated.

Now--the power is out and the mall is thrown into darkness. Shay, Marco, Lexi, Ryan, and Ginger aren't the same people they were two weeks ago. Just like the virus, they've had to change in order to survive. And not all for the better. When no one can see your face, you can be anyone you want to be, and, when the doors finally open, they may not like what they've become.

If you think it's silly to be afraid of the dark, you're wrong.
Very wrong.

And now we enter the Lord of the Flies territory.  The action is more intense here, but it's brutal, violent, true anarchy reigns, and it seems that the goal is to show how little it takes for the worst of humanity to come out.  I lamented reading this far (I have issues with leaving things unresolved) and the redemption I hoped for on so many levels never came.

This isn't a series I could in good faith recommend.  It left me depressed and slightly bitter, and life is too short for books that aim to depress for no other reason than to depress. I think part of the problem I had with the series is that I had just read Monument 14, a series along a similar thread with many differences.  That was so well-executed, this was like reading a penny dreadful in comparison.

Overall rating: Two stars

For the Sensitive Reader: Anarchy reigns.  Brutal violence, drug and alcohol use, Lord of the Flies but with teens and hormones.  

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