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Title: The Epidemic
Spring Book Review ButtonAuthor: Suzanne Young
ISBN: 9781481444705
No. of Pages: 384
Genre: Young Adult; Fiction
Origins: Simon Pulse
Release Date: 19 April 2016

Synopsis:

“Can one girl help others find closure by slipping into the identities of their loved ones? Find out in this riveting sequel to The Remedy and companion to the New York Times bestselling The Treatment and The Program.

In a world before The Program…

Quinlan McKee has spent her life acting as other people. She was a closer—a person hired to play the role of the recently deceased in order to give their families closure. Through this process, Quinn learned to read people and situations, even losing a bit of herself to do so. But she couldn’t have guessed how her last case would bring down her entire world.

The only person Quinn trusts is Deacon, her best friend and the love of her life. Except Deacon’s been keeping secrets of his own, so Quinn must set out alone to find Arthur Pritchard, the doctor who’s been trying to control her life. The journey brings Quinn to Arthur’s daughter, Virginia, who tells Quinn the truth about Pritchard’s motives. The former closer will start to see that she is the first step in fighting an epidemic.

But Quinlan doesn’t want to be a cure. And with all the lies surrounding her, she realizes she has no one left to rely on but herself—even if she doesn’t know who that is anymore.”

My Thoughts: The Epidemic picks up at the exact moment The Remedy ends. While this is usually cause for concern, especially if you are like me and did not go back to re-read any of the previous books to refresh your memory, Ms. Young does a fantastic job picking up the strands of the narrative and weaving into them enough of the backstory to cause no hiccups in understanding. At the same time, she does not linger overlong on such backstory elements but rather allows Quinn’s story to move forward at its own pace. Given how temporary her life is within the opening pages, this means the action starts quickly and really never pauses for breath. The reader is along for the entire ride.

All of the favorites from The Remedy are back for Quinn’s journey for answers, which is a good thing. Quinn’s friends bring humor and add much-needed lightness to a story that could very easily get bogged down in the cryptic and depressing. It is key to remember that the next story in this “series” is The Program, so The Epidemic is never going to be a happy and charming novel. Still, things are not quite as bad as they are later, and the moments of levity are a welcome emotional palate cleanser.

Quinn’s struggles regarding identity are intriguing if not a little overly dramatic. Then again, if you had no idea what your true name was or grew up switching names and imitating others as fluidly and as often as one changes shoes, the idea of identity does tend to take on an entirely different meaning. Still, this is one of the weaker areas of the story, as Quinn hashes and rehashes her concerns, her angst, and her drive to find answers. It is not only redundant but somewhat boring as all teens struggle with the idea of identity during their formative years. It is part of the growing-up process after all.

So much time is spent on Quinn’s internal musings in fact that the explanation for and fight against the pending epidemic are anticlimactic. The explanation is cursory at best, confusing at worst and altogether lacking in specificity. Given that this epidemic is the driving force behind four novels, I expected more pages devoted to it. What we are given seems rather lacking, and frankly, I don’t buy it. While I could accept the idea of closures, of drugs that target selected memories and erase them, and other memory manipulation drugs, I struggle to accept the rationale behind the epidemic. While the psychology exists, the contagion seems rather extreme, and therein lies my issue.

However, as much as I may have been bored at times with Quinn’s angst-fueled reflections and as much as I do not accept the explanation given for the epidemic, I still enjoyed the novel. A lot. Deacon manages to exude the right balance of sexy, vulnerability, and confidence that will drive most girls wild. Quinn is rather kick-ass when it comes to getting answers. Her plans may lack a lot, but she takes decisive action, something you automatically respect. The action itself is practically nonstop, as Quinn takes off running during the first chapter and really never finishes running. The whole story comes to a nice conclusion, setting the stage for Sloan and James to make their entrance in the next novel. It’s a satisfying end to a great series.

The Epidemic by Suzanne Young

BOTTOM LINE: A strong and chilling finish to a spectacular series.

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