Mia is famous because she fell into a well at the age of 4. Now she’s nearly 17 and attends Westbrook, an elite boarding school, and people still call her “Baby Mia.” Westbrook happens to be located in Mia’s hometown of Fenton, which gives her “townie” status and keeps her close to her widowed father. Not that she sees him very often. He’s obsessed with his secret work at the Cave, which Mia believes has something to do with microchips and the government. Mia is wrong.
In a horrific turn of events, the students of Westbrook are suddenly in lockdown, guarded by soldiers in HAZMAT suits. A terrible virus that rapidly ages its victims is tearing through the faculty and is now infecting students. And Mia keeps remembering her last desperate phone call to her father, when he said, “Mia, all of this has to do with me.” Tension ratchets up as Mia and her friends stage a daring escape from the school to reach the Cave.
Between the carnage that she witnesses and the betrayals that she fears, Mia is desperate for answers. Unfortunately for both Mia and the reader, the answers are slow in coming. Too many conversations end with some version of, “I’ll explain later.” When the truth is finally revealed, author Seth Fishman switches the narrative point of view from Mia to her father as a young man, which allows the backstory to be revealed with a youthful voice. At times, the characters veer too close to nebulous stereotypes like computer geek, football player or best friend. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of adventure and a satisfyingly creative resolution. This is a good recommendation for fans of James Patterson’s teen series.
Diane Colson works at the Nashville Public Library. She has long been active in the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Association (YALSA), serving on selection committees such as the Morris Award, the Alex Award and the Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award.