The Boy on the Bridge

400p. Hachette/Orbit. May 2017. Tr $26. ISBN 9780316300339.
Teens still clamor for pandemic apocalyptic fiction—nearly as much as zombies crave flesh! Ten years ago, a parasitic fungus started hijacking the brains and bodies of humans with frightening speed, decimating England's population and turning those afflicted into zombielike "hungries." Now, leaders at a fortified settlement called Beacon are desperate to halt the growth of the cataclysmic Cordyceps. They send a second mobile armored vehicle to take six soldiers, five scientists, and a teenager on a Hail Mary mission to collect samples left behind from a first group that never returned and to learn what they can to save the human race. Carey effectively brings to life many of the dozen characters. Young adults will especially appreciate the brilliant Stephen Greaves, 15, who might be on the autism spectrum. He was permitted to join the crew at the behest of Samrina Khan, the group's epidemiologist and his foster mother of sorts. Readers will be engrossed as Stephen searches for data to understand the hungries and the fungus and looks for ways to combat them, such as the e-blocker he develops to stymie the hungries' acute olfactory sense. A villainous civilian commander, an unplanned pregnancy for Khan, backbiting among the soldiers, and Stephen's work with the hungries add up to an intriguing read.
VERDICT Lovers of speculative fiction or sci-fi will devour this fresh take on the genre.

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