America has been ravaged by a disease that has left the eastern half of the country uninhabitable. Protected by a wall in the west, sixteen-year-old Lane lives with her father, never having known the destruction of the disease that killed millions. When her father goes missing, Lillie learns that her father is a 'Fetch', someone who illegally travels into the east to collect items that were left behind like personal artifacts, heirlooms, and artwork. And Lane must find him or face execution. However, things have changed in the eighteen years since the wall went up, the virus that killed so many has weakened, and instead of killing its victims it mutates them into half-human half-animal variations that would boggle the mind. As Lane travels through the east she learns that her kindness, strength, and training are both a blessing and a curse and not everyone is what they seem.
This is a purely plot-driven book. The plot is set from the first few chapters. The disease, her father's sordid work in the east, and a time frame of 5 days to travel to Chicago and return with Lane's father and a family heirloom. It is this time frame that draws the story forward, rather than anything the characters say or do. This is not to suggest that a plot-driven book is bad, in fact as far as plots and story lines go, this one is quite intriguing and helps keep the pacing rolling along at a good speed. I found the idea of people who can be transformed into animals and may at any time go mad, to be very intriguing as is the question of what it truly means to be human.
What happens in plot-driven stories though is that the characters are thrown around like a pinball within the plot, ricocheting from one moment to the next and the reader is left scrabbling for scraps of characterization wherever we can find it. And as is apparently the standard in Young Adult novels, there is the usual love triangle. I am all for the rouge like character, in fact some of my favorite characters in novels have been rogues, however Falls made her rogue so unlovable and unlikable that all I could think was that if Lane ended up dating/loving/liking this guy, I would just be done with the story. I understand having a rough life and such, but Rafe had very little redeemable qualities and I would have disappointed if the author had gone in that direction.
All that to say, as far as plot-driven books are concerned, this was a fun quick read. I look forward to the second, with some hope as to more controlled characterization and some fun revelations.