The Young World is a wonderfully snarky, sharply written, fun satire on American society in general, and youth culture in specific. Drawing upon a landscape of a shattered New York City, there is a wealth of bite for author Weitz to mine with his teenaged protagonists. And though I was greatly reminded of the movie The Warriors (if not deadly serious and full of bon mots), I greatly enjoyed The Young World as a romping adventure through the YA dystopian genre.
After a virus quickly kills off all adults and young kids, only teens survive. Jefferson and his ‘tribe’ are holed up in Washington Square in New York City, knowing all along that supplies are dwindling and they will all die around the time they turn 18. But one of Jeff’s group thinks he has an answer to the virus – the ground zero origin as well as the possibility of a cure. It’s up to Jeff to get a small party across a ravaged Manhattan and up to the tip of Long Island. They will battle other tribes, wild animals, and worse both above and below the dangerous streets of New York City. At stake is much more than their lives.
Weitz has done an excellent job of creating characters with rich and very teen dialogue. The book has two POVs: Jeff and his childhood friend Donna. All of the tribe are characters in themselves and watching their personalities spark off each other (and others they meet along the way) is a lot of the fun of the book. The plot flows quite smoothly and this is a very easy but engaging read. I smiled quite a few times at the observations, dialogue, and thoughts of these characters.
While we don’t have anything new in the genre here (with faint shades of the New Zealand B-grade 1990 TV series Tribe, Lord of the Flies, and The Warriors), the writing is good enough to create a very satisfying and distinct plot arc. But what really makes the book unique is its take on a post apocalyptic New York. I had as much fun reading about dystopian Manhattan as I did with the witty rejoinders. From Central Park to the Met to the subways.
This is the first in the series. The book ends with a huge twist, fairly abruptly, to set up the events to come in the next book. I look forward to following these characters more in book 2.
Reviewed from an ARC.