No Safety in Numbers

Making her young adult debut, author Dayna Lorentz’s No Safety In Numbers has everything necessary to be a big hit: great premise, palpable tension, social commentary, a cast of interesting characters, and solid, well crafted writing.  Not to mention the creative marketing Penguin has put into the book already (ARCs came with bottles of hand sanitizer stickered with the bio-hazard graphic from the cover).   Lorentz’s all-too-plausible tale of suburban panic is gripping and unsettling because it’s very easy to see how this plot could become a reality no of us want to face.  Comparisons to Lord of the Flies are right on and the modern setting makes this an accessible, engaging bridge to the classic.

What starts out as a regular Saturday at the local mall quickly morphs into an unimaginable nightmare for thousands of innocent shoppers and mall workers: a device has been planted in the mall’s HVAC system and something has entered the air circulation system.  Quietly, a lock down is initiated, trapping people in the mall while the authorities try to analyze and get control of the situation. At first, people in mall are relatively content to sleep on the floor, shop by day, and meander around the mall.  But soon, when people start coming down with symptoms and even start dying, a quarantine is issues and the mall is permanently sealed off from any hope of outside assistance. As you can imagine, all hell breaks loose and most people drop any semblance of societal niceties and people turn against one another in a horrific melee.

Among the thousands trapped are four teens, Shay, Marco, Lexi and Ryan.  Each was at the mall that day for a different reason: Shay with her grandmother and little sister looking to get lost among the nameless crowds; Marco, dreading another day at as a busboy at a mall eatery; Lexi, drug to the mall by her parents for an outing as a “family”; and Ryan, freshman JV Football player sent to get costume supplies for the varsity team’s Halloween prank.  When they find themselves in a situation they never expected, not knowing if they will live or die, they somehow manage to forge meaningful connections with each other and some of the other teens trapped amid the chaos as the adults around them fall apart.

No Safety in Numbers comes to a tension-filled ending well before the outbreak has run its course. Not knowing who will live, or how they will die, has left me pretty much dead-set against any shopping trips to the mall for a very long time.

  • Posted by Cori


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