The Antidote
368p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Feb. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062453471.
Gr 9 Up—When a sudden plague swept through Fireli, one of the four kingdoms of Aethusa, it left death, evacuations, and a decade of quarantine in its wake. Ophelia (Fee) and Prince Xavi were the only children left behind, and their close friendship sustained them through years of grief and isolation. Now an apprentice healer, Fee chafes at the restrictions on her life and at the daily antidote she must take, while Xavi's health is continuously precarious. When the quarantine lifts, both teens are eager for the new opportunities it brings: the chance to restore the kingdom of Fireli to its former glory and to reunite with Prince Rye, Xavi's brother and Fee's betrothed. But neither pursuit is without complications. This novel is bogged down by numerous over-the-top plot twists that include faked deaths, wrongful imprisonment, hidden identities, and forbidden romance, but weak characterization and forced dialogue take much of the excitement out of the drama. Overly stylized language and consistently abrupt scene endings create the feeling of an unfinished novel.
VERDICT Not recommended. For magical fantasy during a plague, direct readers to Beth Revis's Give the Dark My Love.

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