The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe

Lives We Lost,The (Fallen World trilogy, The)
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(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“First, the virus took Kaelyn’s friends, then her family, and now it’s spread beyond her island. The only thing people know for sure is that no one is safe. But when Kaelyn finds samples of a vaccine hidden in her father’s abandoned laboratory, she knows there’s only one option: seek out someone who can replicate it. As Kaelyn and her friends head to the mainland, carrying with them hopes for a cure, they face greater challenges than they ever could have imagined. Not everyone they meet wants Kaelyn to succeed-and many simply want her dead and the vaccine for themselves. With the chance of finding help slipping away, will Kaelyn be forced to sacrifice those she loves in order to rescue the human race?”

This book is very different from the first in the series.  Instead of the epistolary style used previously, Kaelyn only makes a few journal entries before abandoning it altogether.  I found that while I had no problems with the more “normal” writing style, I did miss the journal, because it gave the story a much more personal and immediate feel.  The author did keep the narrative to first-person, though, so there is still some of that sense in the story.

Another difference is the setting.  Kaelyn and her group leave the island and venture onto the mainland in search of someone who can synthesize the vaccine and hopefully create a cure.  In this respect, the story begins to lose some of the uniqueness that initially drew me into the series—there are plenty of novels about a small group of people surviving in a hostile world devastated by disease/war/zombies/etc.  However, Crewe’s descriptions of the people that they meet and the places that they discover are well-done and continued to hold my attention.

It’s this choice—moving the action to the broader setting rather than the limited one—that contributes to this book really feeling like a “middle novel”.  The first book showed us the effects of the disease, and presumably the final book will show the final push to get a cure and rebuild society.  This second book consists of a lot of traveling and short vignettes of what happens on the way (kind of like the random encounters of a role-playing group as they head to the main adventure).  While it’s certainly not boring, there’s not a lot of plot advancement happening.

The suspense in this novel is still pretty high.  The characters are now encountering strangers, and you never know if they’ll be friendly or hostile, or if they’re sick or healthy.  Members of the group are still vulnerable to the virus, and much of the book is spent wondering who will fall ill—or if they will.  By the time the story is over, a lot of different problems have occurred and some events have been set up that will have ramifications far into the final novel.  The unpredictability of most of the character interactions keeps the tension high and the book’s pace moving briskly along even with the long stretches of traveling place to place.

Although I missed some of what made the first novel unique, The Lives We Lost is nonetheless a suspenseful story that will keep readers turning pages to find out what happens next.  I’ll be waiting eagerly for the final book to see how Crewe gets her characters past the many obstacles now facing them.

Also by this author: The Way We Fall

This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on April 25, 2013.

Series: The Fallen World
ISBN: 9781423146179
Publisher: Hyperion
Page Count: 288
Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as an e-ARC through NetGalley
Author Website
Read an excerpt