Reviews for Strangelets

Booklist Reviews 2013 April #1
Gagnon veers from cyber-thriller (Don't Turn Around, 2012) to paranoid sci-fi with this tale of six multicultural teens ("a postapocalyptic model UN") who wake up in an abandoned hospital. Each recalls the final moment of his or her normal life: Sophie was hours away from dying of cancer in California; Irish thief Declan was about to be shot in an alley; and Anat was traversing an underground tunnel between Israel and Egypt. So is this purgatory? Not exactly. After they break out of the hospital, they find themselves in a Long Island abandoned by humans but populated by scaly monsters with sharp claws. Perhaps the answer has to do with the heavy ion collider project one of the teens' fathers had been working on? Much of the book has the feel of a prologue in want of satisfying developments, but it's still fun watching the kids debate rapture versus nuclear disaster and come to terms with no longer being at the top of the food chain. A fun creature feature with smarts. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 March #1
Three very different teens on the edge of death get firsthand experience of the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. Sophie is dying of lymphoma in a California hospice. Declan is about to be shot as a thief in Galway City. Anat is trapped in a tunnel collapse in the Gaza Strip....The next moment they awaken in a closed ward of what appears to be a hospital. Meeting up with Swiss Nico, Zain from India and Yosh from Japan, none trusts the others, but they have to work together since they've no food. When they do manage an escape, the world they find outside is a nightmare. It seems vaguely familiar to Nico, whose father works as a physicist on Long Island, but the buildings are weathered, and mature trees crack the pavements. The place is deserted except for violent, frightening beasts. Finding out what happened takes a back seat to survival. Gagnon's second for teens (Don't Turn Around, 2012) riffs on the notion that a supercollider will spawn mini–black holes and plays fast and loose with the laws of physics, but readers won't mind. Interesting characters, some of whom have dangerous secrets, act and react like real teens. The slow reveal of what's going on is as tantalizing as the action is pulse-pounding. Takes some suspension of disbelief (especially for science lovers) but a fun ride. (Science fiction. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 February #4

The first half of Gagnon's (Don't Turn Around) thriller is well-executed survivalist horror endured by six teens trapped in a hospital-like bunker. They come from every point on the globe: cancer-stricken Sophie from California, petty thief Declan from Ireland, military trainee Anat from Israel, hiker Nico from Switzerland, shy Yosh from Japan, and studious Zain from India. Suspicious, confused, and desperate, they draw together to crack the bunker and figure out why they are there; escaping proves easier than solving the second mystery. Though they deduce that all of them were in near-death situations prior to awakening in the bunker, no reasonable theory exists for how they were transported there and why they are still alive. The second half of the story pivots from the engrossing characters and building suspense to the unraveling of their questions, and Gagnon's mastery of the narrative falters somewhat. The action remains pulse-pounding, but some readers may find the SF explanation underlying the adventure to be a letdown after the skillful buildup that precedes it. Ages 14-up. Agent: Stephanie Kip Rostan, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 June

Gr 7 Up--Three teens from around the world suddenly find themselves in an abandoned hospital the exact moment that their lives would have ended. Sophie was about to die from cancer in California, Anat was about to be suffocated in a tunnel between Israel and Egypt, and Declan was about to be shot in Ireland. This sci-fi thriller focuses on these young people as they try to make sense of their situations, get to know one another, and struggle to work out how they can get back to their lives-if they possibly can. Strangelets switches point of view frequently and introduces a lot of characters at once, making the start a little bumpy for impatient readers. The complicated but innovative premise falls short, and the pace of the novel jumps from tortoise speed to cheetah and back again a bit too often. Perhaps the biggest surprise of a story that starts with the main characters seconds away from death is that it all comes to a tidy and convenient end. Despite the bumps, Strangelets definitely serves an audience that is chomping at the bit for more dystopian thrillers.--Emily Chornomaz, Camden County Library System, NJ

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VOYA Reviews 2013 June
Each teen character was on the verge of death when their worlds went blank and they woke up in a functional but vacant facility, discovering each other. While Sophie suffered from cancer, currently she seems healed. Declan and Anat bring international flavor as Declan hails from Ireland and Anat from Israel, each with their own baggage. While the story focuses on these three, there are also Nico, Yosh, and Zain, who make their own significant impressions on the story. With teamwork, they discover stories of the incident that has left the world devoid of humans while hungry creatures prowl dusty monoliths of cities that used to exist and attempt a reversal of their fates, even if it means taking potentially fatal chances With several young adult books already under her belt, Gagnon blends the dystopian phenomenon with a creepiness that fans of The Walking Dead can appreciate. And while Gagnon presents the story simply, it is anything but to explain, with the tragedy of an incident akin to Isla Bick's Ashes putting the characters in a life-altering situation for which there might not be a solution. The writing is captivating and the mystery unfolds comfortably, though thin in some parts of the action. With gore, sympathetic and equally unsympathetic characters, and tension, teens will unequivocally devour this dystopian tale, which is certainly worth adding to the shelf.--Alicia Abdul. 4Q 4P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.