Saturday, March 9, 2013

Stung by Bethany Wiggins

As usual I will begin my review with thanks to both Netgalley as well as Bloomsbury USA Children's Books for allowing me to read this as an e-galley.  I was unsure on whether to give this book a 4 or 5 on Goodreads, but I ended up rounding up, as this book had so many unique and kind of realistic (science-wise) ideas, and, when I put it down, I wondered what would happen next.  Now, while I think it definitely ended in a way that worked, and it could definitely be a stand alone novel, I think they threw in a little bit at the very end that means it might go on.  So we'll see.
The premise of this story you might be able to kind of guess from the title, "Stung", as well as the picture on the cover.  It has to do with insects, bees to be exact.  Most people have heard that we have a possible situation with bees being endangered animals.  And as a science teacher, I hope that people realize just how bad it would be if they did go extinct.  Now, I'm not a big fan of any kind of insect.  I scream like a girl and hate having to kill bees or wasps or spiders.  Or the nasty house centipedes I first learned about when moving into my current house a few years ago.  But, again, as a science teacher, I do realize how important "bugs" are to the whole world.  And bees in particular.  Okay, enough about that, and more about the story. In this novel, the scientists have found a way to save the bees, they've made a genetically modified strain of bees that are resistant to pesticides and the other things that are causing bees to be endangered.  Unfortunately, this book goes into what some people are worried about with genetic modification, these bees are now basically lethal.  When they sting you, you get sick, and pretty much die it seems.  But at the time the scientists announce this whole thing, they also have some good news, they've developed an anti-venom type of vaccine.  Well, as you might expect, the vaccine may not be as good of news as thought.  It turns the recipients into beasts.  And when the scientists find a way to kill these "indestructible" and lethal bees, it kills just about everything else, the plants, the other animals, etc.  So to save themselves from these beasts, walls are built around cities, and they develop rules to keep themselves safe.  Only certain people are allowed to live inside the walls.  No one with disabilities, and men are only allowed in once they've either married so that they can help to repopulate the world (15 year old girls!), or after they've worked in the militia to protect the walls from the beasts.  And once people reach a certain age, they are "euthanized"?  I think.  Although it sounds like it may not be as nice of a ending for them.
Our main character is Fiona, who is just waking up at the beginning of the story.  Only she doesn't know any of this.  In fact, the last things he remembers is being like 12 years old.  And when she wakes up, she's older, 15 or 16 at least.  And she's alone.  Well, except for her brother.  But it isn't really her brother anymore, he's a monster.  So as she runs from her house where she grew up, and her brother, she runs through her town.  She meets up with neighbors, again who all are older than she remembers, and she has a tattoo on her arm, that when she first wakes up she realizes she must cover up.  By doing this her neighbors at least don't shoot her, and even give her some advice on what to do.  As she gets closer and closer to a big wall, she runs into another girl named Arrin.  Arrin helps her by trading clothes and cutting her hair to make her so she won't look like a girl, because it is really dangerous to be a girl in this world.  You won't be killed, but you'll wish to die by the time they're done with you.  And she just asks Fiona, Fo, to help her get her brother back from the militia waiting outside the gates of the city.  It stinks in the sewers where they live of course, even though they haven't necessarily been used as sewers in a long time.  And it isn't just the filth that is bad, there are men who will rape or kill them.  And there is no food.  Arrin gives Fo a leather belt to chew on for food.  Well, Fo finally goes to try to help out Arrin, because of Arrin holding a knife to her throat.  But the rescue is unsuccessful as they capture Fo, seeing by her tattoo that she is a Level 10, and as Arrin tries to steal her brother away, he is blown up, although Arrin does make her own escape.  Now Fo must stay there so that they can take her into the lab when the gates to the city open up on their usual day once a week.  But Fo recognizes one of the men, as a neighbor, Bowen.  And he remembers her as well.  At first of course, everyone thinks she is a boy, so she is safe.  But once it is found out she is a girl, Bowen realizes he must get her somewhere safe until he can take her into the lab.  The bad thing even about that though, is that she will be killed in order for them to find out why she is a Level 10, but hasn't turned.  And he begins to see that maybe that isn't even good, especially when the gates open up early with a message to kill this Level 10 on contact and just bring her body in.  Bowen begins to wonder why this has been decided when she could possibly be just what is needed to save the world.  And he begins to fall for her, as she does for him.
I won't go on, don't want to spoil any more of the story.  But it was a good read.  I loved the science, no matter how realistic or far fetched some parts were.
It comes out in April I believe, so you don't have long to wait to read it!