Last year I read and enjoyed the first book in D. J. MacHale's SLYO Chronicles series. When I saw Ms. Yingling's positive review of the second book, Storm, last week, I immediately had to read it. I'm happy to report that I was not disappointed. I read it compulsively over the weekend, and can't wait for the next SYLO book (due out in October). This review will contain spoilers for the first book (it would be impossible not to, though I'll try to keep them to a minimum).
The SYLO series started with a mysterious government quarantine of a small island off the coast of Maine. Book 1, SYLO, was fast-paced and intriguing, with a nicely-realized depiction of island life, and the reluctant coming together of four teens.
In the second book, D. J. MacHale dramatically raises the stakes for teen hero Tucker Pierce. Storm begins immediately following the events of SYLO, with Tucker and his friends having escaped Pemberwick Island. They discover that the epic battle that they witnessed between SYLO (the military organization that quarantined and tried to kill them) and another branch of the US Military was NOT an isolated event. They find themselves in a post-apocalyptic landscape, unsure of where to go or who to trust. But Tucker, at least, knows what he wants: revenge against SYLO (or whoever else may have been ultimately responsible) for the death of his best friend.
Storm is action-packed and suspenseful. There are big picture questions about what is going on in the world, and what the fate of humanity will be. And there are more immediate questions about how to survive, and who to rely upon. These questions are set against various battles and chases, with teen relationship dramas provided as counterpoint. There is a nice balance between introspection (wondering what is going on, and what the implications are of what is going on) and action.
Tucker throughout, and despite his desire for revenge, remains the moral center for the book. Even after the trials that the teens have been through, he continually strives to do the right thing, and to encourage the others to do so, too. He is a solid hero, one that readers will respect and relate to. Tori, a schoolmate who helped Tucker to survive in the first book, is also a strong, likable character. The other teens, Olivia and Kent, as well as new traveling companion Jon, are a bit more mixed, in terms of likability (especially Kent, who is a bit of a jerk). Wondering whether any of the characters, besides Tucker, can be fully trusted adds to Storm's suspense.
Here are a couple of snippets, to give you a feel for Tucker's voice:
"Home. It's a simple little word that means so much. It's not just a place, it's a concept. Home is safety. It's where you are surrounded by loved ones who watch out for you. It's the one place where you will always be welcomed, no matter what craziness may be going on around you. I think for most people it's the single most important place in the world. I know that's true because I no longer have one." (Page 20)
"The water was still warm. That wouldn't last. Once it ran out, there would be no way to heat it again. There was no electricity and therefore no lights. Or heat. Or refrigeration. We didn't have cell phones or radios or Internet or any of the other things we had always taken for granted. A hot shower was a luxury that wouldn't be repeated until we reconnected with civilization." (Page 43)
I also personally appreciated scenes set in several familiar Boston locales, including Fenway Park, though I'll spare you the detailed quotes.
Storm reminded me a little bit of Rick Yancey's The Fifth Wave (though in Storm we don't know whether or not there are aliens involved). I would say, however, that SYLO and Storm could be read by a slightly younger audience, suitable for middle school as well as high school (Ms. Yingling also gave the thumbs up for this, just barely). Fans of SYLO will definitely want to check out Storm (or perhaps wait until Strike comes out in October). Book 2 is, I think, better than Book 1. Anyone who enjoys fast-paced thrillers featuring teen heroes, with or without post-apocalyptic elements, will want to give the SYLO Chronicles a look.
Publisher: Razorbill (@RazorbillBooks)
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Source of Book: Bought it
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