I just finished reading The Young World by Chris Weitz and wanted to give you my take on it. Here goes:
The Gist of It:
This young adult fiction novel begins in the aftermath of a mysterious sickness that took out all of the adults and small children, leaving only young survivors between the ages of 12-18. Jefferson is the leader of his tribe. They have settled into a new way of living and are surviving. He and a few members of his tribe set out to find a cure for the sickness. Their road trip has many roadblocks. They have gunfights with enemy tribes, battle wild animals, and escape cults.
The book is written in 1st person and alternates between Jefferson’s point of view and Donna’s. Jefferson is in love with Donna but she is clueless about that.
What I Liked:
- I enjoyed the most of characters. Donna & Jefferson felt very real to me. Donna had a lot of conflicting emotions and a distinct way of looking at things. The chapters from her point of view were distinctly different from Jeffersons. Dialog presented from Donna’s point of view was written in what I would describe as screen play format. This made it clear who was saying what but I am still on the fence as to if I like this type of format. If the whole book had been written this way it would have been a negative for me, but I did feel like it made Donna’s chapters stand out. Jefferson and Peter, and Kath was also well developed characters.
- I enjoyed the characters use of modern pop culture, text talk, nicknames, and references to the technology that they had once been emerged in but was no longer relevant to their lifestyle. The language did a good job grounding the characters as survivors in a new world as characters who “came” from a normal modern life before.
- There was a lot of action in this book. It kept the pages turning for me. At times it was bit predictable.
- I enjoyed seeing all of ways that each tribe came up with for living and surviving. The writer did a great job building and revealing the lifestyles of the groups that Jefferson’s tribe encountered.
- Fast paced plot and lots of action.
What I Disliked:
- I felt like the “new information” that led to the quest fell out of nowhere. It was all like…This is our life , this is what happened ,we are living, and then BAM “lets go find a cure.” It didn’t ruin the story for me but it was a bit of a stumbling block.
- I had to go back and reread the text to figure out that Brainbox was a character. I thought Brainbox was an object.
- The language. Yes, the same modern culture, text talk, and tech references that I found thought provoking got on my nerves after a while. I felt like it slowed the pace of the book at times, but may have been the intention because there is a lot of action.
- That the tribes and groups were divided by race. I can see how this could likely happen in a post-apocalyptic culture but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I do feel like the writer did a good job dealing with the race division but I wish I was not an issue in real life or this book.
- The romance between Donna and Jefferson felt a little off to me but I was still pulling for them to be together.
- SPOILER* I would like to see deeper emotion from the characters. I want to care more about the characters. But, for all the action and death in this book, I was not deeply invested in the characters. Jefferson just lost his brother but I didn’t see or feel his grief as deeply as I would have liked. SeeThrough’s death was a disappointment. I liked the girl. The characters liked the girl . Brainbox may have loved her. Guess what? Her death did not make me sad as a reader. Yes. I admit it. I should have been sad but I was not. I think her death would have had a more powerful effect if she had been a more developed character and the other characters cared more about her. Jefferson was affected, but it came across more as guilt than sorrow. The other side of this coin is that these kids have seen a lot of death. It could have been the writers goal to show that death affects them differently because they have seen so much of it. However, I, as the reader want a little more emotion.
- The ending. It came out of nowhere.
Final Thoughts: (*Spoiler)
I enjoyed the book. It is not one I would read again. If I come across the sequel to it I would read it to find out what happens next. The book ends with the group being picked up by the NAVY who just happen to be adults. Wait? What? I though all the Adults were dead?
I would rate this a 3 out 5.
Enjoyable, good pacing, thought provoking, some good characters
Race separation, death without emotional impact, and clunky pop- culture language.