Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier Review

"A deadly pandemic, a budding romance, and the heartache of loss make for a stunning coming-of-age teen debut about the struggle to survive during the 1918 flu.

For Cleo Berry, the people dying of the Spanish Influenza in cities like New York and Philadelphia may as well be in another country--that's how far away they feel from the safety of Portland, Oregon. And then cases start being reported in the Pacific Northwest. Schools, churches, and theaters shut down. The entire city is thrust into survival mode--and into a panic. Headstrong and foolish, seventeen-year-old Cleo is determined to ride out the pandemic in the comfort of her own home, rather than in her quarantined boarding school dorms. But when the Red Cross pleads for volunteers, she can't ignore the call. As Cleo struggles to navigate the world around her, she is surprised by how much she finds herself caring about near-strangers. Strangers like Edmund, a handsome medical student and war vet. Strangers who could be gone tomorrow. And as the bodies begin to pile up, Cleo can't help but wonder: when will her own luck run out?

Riveting and well-researched, A Death-Struck Year is based on the real-life pandemic considered the most devastating in recorded world history. Readers will be captured by the suspenseful storytelling and the lingering questions of: what would I do for a neighbor? At what risk to myself?
An afterword explains the Spanish flu phenomenon, placing it within the historical context of the early 20th century. Source notes are extensive and interesting."
Do you know what this reminds me of? Current times. Except Ebola hasn't hit it at this scale. The Spanish Influenza is definitely much worse. And yes, it hitted the states and other places all over the globe. Including Spain and parts of Europe. 

But I really like A Death-Struck Year. It had the right balance between romance (with Edmund) and the battle (against the Spanish Influenza). 

Cleo Berry is looking for a meaning in her life. She is searching for a job. Well, not exactly a job. She is looking for a calling. Remember? A calling? She looks towards the inspiring woman of her times, trying to see if there is anything that clicks. She finds something that draws her attention in a newspaper ad for American Red Cross. She isn't a nurse, yes, but she is someone who is trying to help. But she isn't completely into it. And I really like that. She is more good than bad, but she is torn between two sides.

Very good character. And I really like Edmund's little gestures. Some of his quotes were memorable like this one: "Old ladies like me." I have no idea why, but I always crack up when I think about it. It is just hysterical. 

The historical parts of the book is great. I think it is really interesting. So much information. I think my history book never mentioned the Spanish Influenza, but it is real, yes. Look it up on Wikipedia. The Spanish Influenza is even worse than the Black Death (another attack; smallpox, if I remember correctly). Yet it seems that not a lot of people remember it. Then again, most of the newspapers were biased and they refuse to talk about the real problem with a clear eye. The reporters' glasses are foggy, and I'm sure nations were trying to keep the Spanish Influenza under control. 

Okay, I'll stop ranting about the historical stuff. It is fascinating, and you can read all about it on Wikipedia. And other books. 

The ending is a bit shaky. I was totally confused on that part, because it seemed like the author was trying to end the book, but she had some more things to say. It was like... Oh, here. There's the ending... Oh, wait. No. Here is a bit more... 

It just concludes that endings are impossible.

Overall, A Death-Struck Year is very entertaining. However, it falters towards the ending and adds unnecessary details. The light romance between Edmund and Cleo is nicely placed, and it doesn't seem forced at all. I love the drama and all the other things. The historical note is nice, and it gives a chance to educate readers.

Rating: Four out of Five

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