The Young World by Chris Weitz

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The Young World by Chris Weitz

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Alex Mitchell
Reviewed by Alex Mitchell
Summary: A slightly derivative dystopic adventure, but home to a whole host of relatable and interesting characters and settings.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: July 2014
Publisher: Atom
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0349001937

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After a mysterious sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors band together in small tribes, desperately trying to rebuild their society of old. In New York City, Jefferson, reluctant leader of the tribe from Washington Square, hears of a potential cure for The Sickness. So, he and a squad of heavily armed teens set out across New York in search of this cure. Along the way they must avoid gangs and cults, and brave the perils of the subway – all in the pursuit of mankind's future.

This is the debut novel of director/writer Chris Weitz, whose work includes The Twilight Saga: New Moon, About a Boy and The Golden Compass. This definitely shows through in the writing, as Weitz's writing style is very cinematic and vivid in terms of description. Donna's narration almost looks like a script for a film or a play.

The plot is very generic and I couldn't help but draw strong comparisons with other post-apocalyptic stories. Poignant examples include the Gone series by Michael Grant and Naughty Dog/Sony's action-adventure survival horror game The Last of Us. This made the story relatively predictable. There were several recycled and simplistic tropes in the story, such as Jefferson being the reluctant hero and the other tribes being bunches of uncivilised, supremacist and murderous bandits. Overall, the plot offered little new and, to me at least, was a bit of a disappointment.

However, what the book lacks in terms of story, it makes up for in characters and emotion. The different people in the book really remind you that the apocalypse affects everyone, not just a small group of people. The story is told from the point of view of two characters, the first of which is Jefferson, the bohemian Japanese-American leader of the Washington Square tribe, who would much prefer walking around New York's Metropolitan Museum to partying and hanging around with his friends. The other narrator is Donna, who's your stereotypical girl-next-door; modest, sociable and constantly looking back on how things were before What Happened. The two of them are accompanied by three others; Brainbox, a socially reclusive tech genius who always has a plan tucked up his sleeve. The second is Peter, a gay black Christian who provides a little bit of comic, if slightly stereotypical, relief. The last is SeeThrough, an emaciated Chinese girl, who, despite being just under five feet tall, is easily the toughest of the group.

The apocalypse may have taken away most people's lives, but it has left a great deal of raw emotion. The characters frequently refer back to the events before, mourning the loss of their family, keeping pictures of them to remind them of times gone by. There is also a great deal of romantic tension in the book, particularly between the two narrators. This serves to remind you that, even though these characters are wading through a post-apocalyptic city, they are still teens.

The book may not have the best plot but it was redeemed by the selection of varied and relatable characters.

Further reading:

Gone by Michael Grant: a similar genre, with similar ideas, characters and themes.

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts for adventure and pace.

Stung by Bethany Wiggins

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Buy The Young World by Chris Weitz at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Young World by Chris Weitz at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Young World by Chris Weitz at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Young World by Chris Weitz at


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