What worked: The voice. Pure and simple. Readers see first hand what happens to Lilianna, Lil, right before the deadly Blue Flu hits the East coast. Lil has a secret that has kept her from trusting anyone, including her friends, after a teacher assaults her. Then a flu hits and she sees her world fall apart.
I really liked Lil and could understand her phobias regarding germs which ends up keeping her somewhat safe for a while. Readers see the horror first hand when the flu blossoms into a deadly killing force. Lil is alone after her parents had to leave. I'm not sure I could handle what Lil has to deal with like looters, sickness, and the overwhelming fear of being left alone while friends and love ones die. Ventresca does an excellent job shows readers all of this and we sympathize with Lil when she feels that it's almost too much to handle.
The part in the story where we find out a trusted teacher assaulted Lil and how the town, including a former BFF treats her, was very realistic. I felt that how Lil reacted and pulled away from mostly everyone is something an abused person would do in a similar situation.
I liked the relationship between Jay and Lil. He comes off at first as maybe not the best boyfriend choice but little by little he surprises her and readers with his own strength. Mostly though it's Lil's courage to take the scary steps outside of her comfort zone during the flu outbreak and that includes opening her heart.
Engaging tale with realistic and horrific glimpses into a deadly pandemic where a heroine needs to find the strength within in order to regain her sense of safety in a troubled world. Readers will cheer, cry, but mostly love Lil as she overcomes odds in order to find peace within.