By Martin Lederle-Ensign
Paige, a high school basketball player, goes to bed early one night, worried that she has the flu and might miss the game tomorrow. When she wakes up six days later, a deadly plague has devastated the world, and her neighborhood in Columbus is empty except for the crows. And a good dog named Emmaline. Paige, with Emmaline in tow, sets out on a journey of survival, desperately hoping that she isn’t the last person alive.
Spoiler alert: she isn’t. Without the friends we meet along the way, Any Sign of Life, by Rae Carson, would be a cold, lonely book. It’s still cold and lonely, but at least Paige has a charming quarterback and a surly artist to keep her company, and Paige and her friends are protagonists worth rooting for.
Any Sign of Life is not an uplifting read, but Carson knows how to write an exciting book. The pacing is excellent, with plot twists, mystery, and character exposition coming at just the right times. Danger lurks around every corner. Decomposing bodies abound. Our intrepid gang’s catchphrase is, “What we don’t know will kill us,” and there is so much they don’t know. What could have killed everyone in just six days? What was that floating creature with the pointy fingernails and the creepy mouth? How long can three teens and a sheltie survive on peanut butter and honey?
Any Sign of Life is a dark, dark post-apocalyptic pandemic survival novel, with a dash of aliens for good measure. It is strong, character-driven science fiction with thrills and real human emotion. And a cute dog. Gotta have a cute dog. Fans of The Fifth Wave, opens a new window and The Road, opens a new window will enjoy this story of devastation and the human spirit.