The Loners is almost a modern-day Lord of the Flies. On the first day of school, David and his brother Will, head into McKinley High to find complete chaos. There's a big explosion, and nearly immediately all the teens' hair falls out and all the teachers are coughing up blood and dying. Before anyone knows what's happening, the military has completely sealed off the building, trapping all the students inside. The Loners covers the first year of the quarantine.
Yes, you read that right: a year spent trapped in a high school with hundreds of other students. The doors and windows are sealed off. Their only point of contact with the outside world is when a military helicopter air-drops food & supplies into the courtyard once every two weeks.
As you can imagine, there's absolute anarchy inside the school. The student quickly form "gangs" to work together to get the most materials and goods from each drop. There are the Pretty Ones, who were cheerleaders or popular girls before the explosion. Varsity, the former star athletes. The Geeks and the Sluts, artsy students and slutty girls. David and his brother Will, however are "Scraps." They are unattached to any clique and live a very austere life, barely surviving. After months of living in a janitor's closet, however, David finds himself the reluctant leader of a rag-tag gang of Scraps, who call themselves the Loners.
About 3/4 of the way through the book, I turned to the hubby and said, "man, things just keep getting worse and worse for these teens! The whole book has been nothing but a steep downhill slide!" The book is well-written; the plot does advance... it just advances in a downward spiral. And then you get to the last few pages and a WHOLE LOT happens. Like, out of nowhere. I wasn't terribly thrilled with the speed of the ending... but it is the first book in a series, so maybe things will get explained in Book #2.
Have you read Lord of the Flies? If so, you'll know that groups of marooned teens do not always make good life decisions. This holds true in The Loners. So the characters, even the main characters, David and Will, are not really very likable. This sort of tainted the book a little bit for me, and made it more difficult for me to get emotionally invested in the plot.
Overall, not a terrible book. I'll probably read the second book in the series, if for no other reason than to find out what happens to the teens. But it's not one I'm going to gush about and tell all my friends to go read right now.
*I received an egalley of The Loners from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review. Thank you!