The story centers on three best friends Dev, Abby & Conner as they race across a near-future dystopian California which is further worse for wear after decades of drought and fires and where most of the state's residents have already fled. They're headed to a far-off place where Dev's dad (who disappeared long ago under mysterious circumstances) has hidden a secret that could well break open the universe. Chased by unknown forces and encountering bizarre and vicious creatures (and a town of wacko separatists that could totally exist in our 2020 pandemic reality), the three rely on each other as things go from bad to worse and the world goes into full lockdown. I loved the friends storyline and especially appreciated Conner’s cynical yet logical conspiracy theory take on things and the budding relationship between Dev & Abby. Dev is a vulnerable yet active and loveable protagonist, driven to find answers to his deepest questions and perhaps even to clear his father’s reputation.
The book seamlessly slipped between the story of the 3 teens (with Dev as protagonist) and the backstory of Dev's father, a research physicist, and his Indian mother, a medical doctor in LA. The father's story (the discovery of a very intriguing parasite and his band of scientific research fellows) is truly compelling, and the global conglomerate funding his research is not to be trusted. The science is detailed and intelligent and seemed totally plausible to my non physicist brain! I felt like I’d wanted to separately follow Dev's father's story even further and almost found myself wishing this was 2 distinct books.
The creatures are as freaky, and vicious as can be and the tension truly amps up every time that storyline comes back around. A longtime fan of the whole zombie universe, this is a nice entry, if not a full on zombie apocalypse.... at least not yet?!?
Highly recommended and can't wait to find out what happens next. Especially after that ending!
It's Maze Runner meets, The Martian with a little bit of Outbreak thrown in.