Any Sign of Life

­Greenwillow. Oct. 2021. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062691934.
Gr 8 Up–An apocalyptic first contact novel in the vein of The 5th Wave and The Walking Dead. Paige Miller goes to bed with flulike symptoms and wakes up six days later, the only one in her house still alive. One moment Paige’s highest priorities are basketball and state titles, the next they’re finding anyone still alive and getting some answers. Paige collects an eclectic and diverse group of survivors as she dodges drones and tries to figure out what happened. The flu that destroyed Earth was a biological weapon, and the enemy is alien. Carson has crafted an apocalypse so real it could happen tomorrow; references to COVID-19 and politics ground the story in a contemporary atmosphere without strictly dating the novel. With high stakes and a fast-paced survival plot line, sharp prose carries the novel when the characters feel distant and the revelations come too fast. The author attempts, with varying success, to work in issues of race and class. Paige is white, and the side characters include Black, Latinx, and asexual identities on the page.
VERDICT Vivid and well-crafted, this pandemic-adjacent survival story may hit a little close too home this year. Carson’s relentlessly action-packed dystopian is a secondary purchase.

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