Title: The Young World
Author: Chris Weitz
No. of Pages: 384
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Origins: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: 29 July 2014
Bottom Line: Decent
“Welcome to New York, a city ruled by teens.
After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he’s secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.
The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park…and discovers truths they could never have imagined.”
Thoughts: Many stories explore what happens to civilization when the world collapses. The Young World is no different in that element. However, Mr. Weitz takes his version one step further by establishing a post-pandemic civilization with no hope and no chance of survival. This one twist creates a society in which there are essentially no rules. Survivors make them up as they go along depending on the group of people with whom they surround themselves. That there are factions fighting for limited resources is no surprise. That there are factions who separate themselves out into decency and pure terror is also no surprise. Thankfully, the interactions between them are intense in spite of their predictability.
One of the most intriguing aspects of The Young World is the fact that it could take place tomorrow. The references to Before are all modern, including technology, music, fashion, and the like. The potential for a global pandemic is always flitting around in the background as a possible danger, and Mr. Weitz capitalizes on this when creating his world. This familiarity with Jeff’s and Donna’s world adds an extra layer of terror to the proceedings precisely because it is so easy to imagine happening.
The Young World follows the same format as so many of its predecessors. What sets it apart however are the intriguing possibilities raised by the last chapter. Yes, there is the ubiquitous cliffhanger ending, but readers will not mind it. The ending raises a lot of questions and has the potential to be a complete game changer for the story. It is the potential that will keep readers from crying out in frustration at yet another abruptly ended story.