Hearts Still Beating

Putnam. Apr. 2024. 336p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593698327.
Gr 7 Up–In this distinctive new take on the zombie apocalypse genre, best friends Mara and Aurora, who are in the middle of a budding romance, are separated when the Letalis Tichnosis virus ends the world as they know it. Their families take different paths. One leads Aurora, now hardened and going by Rory, to a relatively safe island community where the only monsters are political. The other leads Mara to become a “Tick.” While controlled by the virus, she is forced to watch her body commit unspeakable acts of violence before ending up in an experimental government program that tries to bring Ticks back into consciousness. Deemed safe, former Ticks, now dubbed “Altered,” are placed back with their families. In Mara’s case, with her godparents, in Rory’s home, reuniting them years after their first and only kiss. Rory, having suffered much loss at the hands of Ticks, is not at all happy to live with one, but her hate is complicated by the love they shared that was never fully realized, and when the island leadership starts targeting the Altered, she has to pick her side.
VERDICT A riveting, unique, and delightfully queer adventure. Recommended for all libraries.

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