In June, 2010, "The Change" happened to earth. Earthquakes caused parts of continents to sink into the oceans. Severe weather caused buildings to collapse. For unknown reasons, most humans collapsed and died. A small percentage of people survived including Lou and his brother Theo. They live in a community of survivors in Envy, Nevada. At the time of the change, six guys were in a cave in Arizona and knocked unconscious. They wake up fifty years later, without aging. Two of them have abilities that they didn't have before. Elliott's new ability is to sense illness within a body similar to an MRI. He can also take illness from another through touch. Then when he touches a different person, the illness passes to them.
Every night zombie-like creatures called gangas come out looking for humans and tearing them apart. Strangers appear to be humans and control the gangas. A Stranger has a crystal under his skin on his chest. Strangers appear to be immortal since they don't age, and humans can't figure out how to kill them. Preston is a Stranger who kept Jade prisoner for three years. He beat and raped her. Somehow she escaped and has been in hiding from Preston and helping Lou and Theo with their resistance movements. Jade was born after "The Change" and is now in her late twenties. Elliott's group meets Jade during a ganga fight. She takes them back to Envy with her. Elliott is drawn to Jade from the moment he sees her. He sees her flirting with other men, which bothers him. Elliott accompanies Jade on some resistance missions.
This was pretty good, but I would have liked more emotional development among the characters. This book is mostly action and events, and it's good for that reason alone. I kept thinking about "The Host" by Stephenie Meyer, printed in 2008. I loved "The Host" because of the warm and amazing emotional connection and development among the characters, which wasn't as strong in this book. Both books are about humans in the minority trying to stay alive while aliens rule the earth. Both books also have something implanted in humans, making them different. Crystals are implanted in this book, worm-like creatures are implanted in "The Host." This book was ok, but nothing made it stand out enough to make it a must read. There are at least two sequels coming which tell the stories of Simon and Quent.
I had some unanswered questions. How did Ian know about Elliott's healing gift? It didn't make sense unless he or someone could read Elliott's mind. But then he apparently didn't know that Elliott could transfer the illness to another. Was this a partial mind read? Other questions: Why did they put the crystal into Allie, and why didn't it work? Who was Allie to Ian? How did Ian know which door Elliott and Jade would be coming out of at the mall? Some things will probably be answered in future books, but it would have been nice to know a little more about the crystals, the Strangers, and why the gangas kill all humans except blonds. They kidnap blonds but we don't know where they take them or why. Apparently teens are kidnapped by Strangers to use as slaves. I wanted to know more, but not enough to buy sequels to get the answers.
I was bothered that Elliott decided to commit suicide to save the life of the local mayor. I couldn't buy it - Lou or Theo maybe, but not losing a "healer" to save the live of a person who didn't seem to be doing anything special. In "The Host," the alien decides to die so her human host could live. That was a wonderful self sacrifice I could believe. But Elliott doing it in this book didn't work for me. I didn't intend to write so much about "The Host," but too many comparisons kept coming to mind as I read this book.
Story length: 357 pages. Swearing language: strong, including religious swear words. Sexual language: moderate. Number of sex scenes: 3. Total number of sex scene pages: 12. Setting: 2060 Arizona and Nevada. Copyright: 2010. Genre: fantasy science fiction romance.