Book Review of The Loners by Lex Thomas

Posted June 21, 2012 by Kara in Uncategorized / 13 Comments

Publisher: EgmontUSA
Release Date: July 10th, 2012
Pages: 416
Genre: Young Adult/Post-Apocalyptic
Series: Quarantine #1
Source: I received an e-copy from NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb: It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.
A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you’re as good as dead. And David has no gang. It’s just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school.

In this frighteningly dark and captivating novel, Lex Thomas locks readers inside a school where kids don’t fight to be popular, they fight to stay alive.

Review: I had a LOT of issues with this book. First of all, the slut-shaming. It is HORRENDOUS. There is even a gang of girls called “The Sluts.” The word skank is thrown around a lot as well. There is not one female in this book that is portrayed positively. They are either weak, shallow, helpless, or catty. They use their bodies a lot to get things. It’s just…icky. As a woman, I felt really uncomfortable reading a good portion of this book. I’m not sure it’s appropriate for teenagers. Clearly, this is more of a book for boys. And I’m not a prude or anything, but I don’t think I would want my son thinking about women this way. 

And then on top of that, this book was EXTREMELY violent. I don’t mind violence in books. One of my favorite YA books is The Enemy by Charlie Higson and that book is pretty grotesque. I just felt it was senseless and kind of unnecessary. It was just violence for the sake of having violence. If there’s a good reason for it, fine. But it was over the top here and I think some of the scenes went too far. I’ve never been a fan of the blood and gore movies. There needs to be a purpose.

As far as the plot goes, it was decent. I actually LIKED the story. It was suspenseful as hell. The setting was imaginatively rendered. But there was so much I didn’t care for that it kind of overshadowed the good. This isn’t an original plot by any means, but it was suspenseful and I read the whole thing. It’s not a BAD book, I just wish more thought had been put into some of the content.

The world-building was decent but I needed more detail. Especially on the virus that caused the whole breakdown of the school and its students in the first place. I don’t want to spoil anything but there was not enough information provided. If you are one of those people that need details in your post-apocalyptic landscapes, this book might irritate you a little. How it all came to be was presented in a pretty vague way.

Character development needed work. I know based on the writing that I was supposed to root for Will and David, but I found both of their characters annoying and frustrating. They were immature and bratty. Will was a whiny, reckless snot that kept doing stupid shit at the expense of everyone else. David was always serious, he was boring, and he went after the love of his brother’s life. And I’m supposed to look up to this guy. Um, thanks, but no thanks? There was a lot of telling in the writing when it came to the character development. There was no backstory to these characters so they were all pretty flat. And then I had an issue with not being able to root for any of the females because they were all whiny and helpless. NONE of the characters were likable. Just uninspired all around.

I wish I had liked it more. I kind of want to read the next one because I want to know how the story ends or continues or whatever, but I doubt I will. There are many better books out there that aren’t full of negative portrayals of women. There are books with similar storylines that won’t personally offend me. So I will probably pass. I’m not saying you shouldn’t read it, but if you are sensitive to excessive violence or slut-shaming, I would give this one a miss. It just didn’t really work for me.

13 responses to “Book Review of The Loners by Lex Thomas

  1. I know what you mean by too much violence. I remember reading somewhere that gratuitous violence doesn’t mean “a lot of violence” – it means “a lot of violence without purpose.”

    If the violence (and the scope of the violence) is necessary to the story and the plot, then it’s not gratuitous and I don’t mind it. The violence in “Divergent,” for example – the plot and setting called for it. But I hate books where the violence isn’t necessary and is put in for cheap shock value, or else exaggerated beyond what it would normally be in that situation.

    • But I hate books where the violence isn’t necessary and is put in for cheap shock value, or else exaggerated beyond what it would normally be in that situation.

      That is exactly what it felt like. You worded it better than I ever could. It totally felt like it was put in for the shock value. To be honest, I am not a fan of movies like that either, e.g., Hostel, Saw, etc.

      Thank you SO much for stopping by. I’m a huge fan of your blog and tweets.

  2. This is a great review, Kara. I actually love the premise of the novel and am torn on whether or not I want to read it. I don’t mind excessive violence, but I imagine the slut-shaming gets old.

    What to do, what to do? I’ll have to think on it some more 🙂 But thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Wow, thanks for the insightful review! I got this from NetGalley but have not gotten to it yet. I saw the low overall Goodreads rating and moved it to the bottom of the list. Thanks for giving such specific feedback without giving away the story.

  4. Amy

    I am glad I decided to skip this one. I am one of those people who needs to know the how or why, so not really getting a lot of information bothers me. I also am really big on characters. If it didn’t have great character development that’s a turn off too. Thanks for the wonderful and honest review Kara!!

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