The Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is ironically named. No one has hope for the delinquent teenagers who have been exiled there; the world barely acknowledges that they exist.
Then the guards at Hope start acting strange. And one day…they don’t show up. But when the teens band together to make a break from the facility, they encounter soldiers outside the gates. There’s a rapidly spreading infectious disease outside, and no one can leave their houses or travel without a permit. Which means that they’re stuck at Hope. And this time, no one is watching out for them at all.
As supplies quickly dwindle and a deadly plague tears through their ranks, the group has to decide whom among them they can trust and figure out how they can survive in a world that has never wanted them in the first place.
This is the third book I’ve read by this author, and she certainly doesn’t shy away from tough subjects. A deadly infectious disease is unleashed on the world in this novel – sound familiar?
When the teens at Hope Juvenile Treatment Center learn the guards are gone and the doors are unlocked, they’re unsure of what’s going on. After a group of them venture into town, they run into a road block and are informed by soldiers about the spread of a plague. People are sheltering in place, and even after explaining their situation to the soldiers, they’re told to return to the center. They’ve been forgotten about. Discarded. With pleas for outside help ignored, the teens have no one to rely on but themselves.
If you’re thinking this sounds like a difficult, dark read, you’re right. Parts are this novel are incredibly hard to get through. Some of these kids have been rejected and abandoned by their families and friends and have no one. A group of them embark on their own to take their chances in the outside world. Others choose to stay and take care of each other. Not everyone lives. The sections with phone call transcripts between parents and friends and lists of food inventory give more insight to what these teens are dealing with.
The story is told in three POVs – Grace, who is thrust into a leadership role, Logan, who is mute and uses a form a sign language only she and her infected twin understand, and Emerson, a nonbinary newcomer to the facility. Each character is very well-crafted and has tremendous character arcs, especially Grace. Those who choose to stay at the center take on jobs and responsibilities and become a family of sorts. It was heartwarming to see some characters’ self perceptions alter during the course of the story. You’re not trapped in the box others put you in – stars can be changed.
Although bleak and certainly sobering taking the last two years into account, this is also a story full of hope and demonstrates what people can do when they come together to help each other.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.