Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Well's End by Seth Fishman

Premise: Mia Kish's elite boarding school is put under quarantine when a deadly virus sweeps across campus. In an attempt to escape the virus, Mia and her friends head out into the snow, pursued by soldiers in hazmat suits, seeking answers at an underground facility where Mia's father is the director. Where did this virus come from? Can it be stopped? And how is Mia's father involved?

Title and Author: The Well's End by Seth Fishman
Length: 352 pages
Series or Stand Alone: Cliffhanger ending indicates a possible sequel
Content appropriate for: Grades 9-12
Format: Digital ARC provided by Putnam Juvenile via NetGalley
Publication Date: February 25, 2014

Three adjectives that describe this book: adventurous, strange, unexpected

The Well's End is not easy to classify. At times it felt like 4 different books:
1. The first section of the book reads like your typical boarding school drama: There are cliques. There's a party with lots of drinking and making out. There are antics.
2. The second section feels like a medical thriller: There are symptoms and dead bodies. There are creepy people in hazmat suits. There's the desperate desire for a cure.
3. The largest portion of The Well's End is a run-for-your-life escape story. The characters are being pursued through treacherous terrain and deadly cold. They must escape, and survive, and escape some more.
4. The last quarter of The Well's End was a science fiction info-dump. We get all kinds of reveals and background information thrown at us in long expository tellings. People are explaining things!

While reading this book I had a lot of conflicting experiences. At first I found it really annoying. I started highlighting all the times the author mentioned alcohol, drugs, intimate encounters, and brand names. I highlighted over 20 places. The whole boarding school section was overdone. It definitely had the feel of an adult writer trying to appeal to teens. Later, as the characters were escaping the school, I was drawn into the action. The plot filled with adventure and life-threatening moments. Then came the info-dumping at the end and I found myself checking out again.

This book was all over the place.

The good: A unique premise, fast-paced adventure, unexpected reveals
The bad: Uneven pacing, flat characters, awkward (fake?) romance
The neutral: A cliffhanger ending that was SO cliffhanger-y it seemed lazy, as though the author couldn't figure out how to end it so he just stopped writing. I'm sure he is hoping for a sequel, and some people enjoy a cliffhanger, but I found it frustrating.

Overall, when I first finished The Well's End I had really mixed emotions. There were times that I loved its action packed mysteriousness. But other things really annoyed me, and the plot was uneven. Still, I think a lot of people will like this book. TeenReads recommended it, and some people have called it a favorite. It just didn't work well for me.
3 stars

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