Matt de la Peña
When Shy and his friends reach the California shoreline, they find widespread devastation and panic. What seemed at first like an easy mission – transport precious vaccines to Arizona to stop the spread of a disease destroying humanity – suddenly becomes near impossible. With the border closed and vigilantes hunting down anyone on the road, the trip seems like a hopeless cause. But with more and more people dying, Shy can’t give up. He must find a way to deliver the medicine and the evidence damning its creator.
The rise of the ugly disease and the conspiracy behind its spread will likely remind readers of James Dashner’s Maze Runner series. The Hunted packs a high dose of suspense and a fast-paced plot that keeps the pages turning. At one point the story takes a bit of a sci-fi turn. Something really unreal happens, but Shy kind of scratches his head and moves on. Nothing further develops from that moment, and readers are left hanging.
At times Shy seems a little young for seventeen, especially in his relationship with Carmen, who often reads as much older. Their relationship progresses through the course of the story, but isn’t a strong central focus. Shy wants to track down his family members and first finds his dad, with whom he carries a lot of emotional baggage. The rebuilding of that relationship borders on being too easy or perfect, but like Shy and Carmen, it’s not in the spotlight very much. Readers looking for a suspenseful, post-apocalyptic tale will find no shortage of action in this high-energy story.
Extreme profanity used often. More than one character pretty much uses profanity to refer to any general noun. Often.
Shy makes a quick comment about how he hooked up with Carmen (in the first book.) Things heat up between them. They swim in underwear and have sex (not a lot of description there.) All this while Carmen is engaged to a man who may or may not still be alive.
There are some digs at religion/faith, at Christianity/Jesus in particular as being a useless pursuit. A priest helps Shy and his friends, but there’s no mention of what state the man’s faith remains in.
There are some pretty gross moments, mostly descriptions of bodies long dead. Some seemed unrealistic – if there’s an outbreak of contagious disease, why aren’t corpses burned? Instead they’re kind of just left sitting there getting nastier and nastier.
Vigilantes with guns shoot anyone who could be sick or who gets in their way.
Shy and his friends carry vaccines that they hope can be replicated to stop the spread of the disease.
The story contains an idea that a large medical company has basically scammed the public by creating a devastating illness and then withholding the vaccine, hoping to use it to get rich.