Book Review: No Safety In Numbers, Dayna Lorentz (2012)

June 19th, 2013 4:52 pm by Kelly Garbato

Just another Day at the Mall

four out of five stars

Throngs of hysterical shoppers. Public bathrooms overflowing with human filth. Teenagers running wild and free. Yup, it’s just another day at the Westchester “CommerceDome” – until an unwitting teenager discovers a biological bomb strapped to the mall’s HVAC system.

Between Masque of the Red Death, The Uglies, the Tankborn trilogy, Mortal Instruments, and The Hybrid Chronicles (etc., etc., etc.), No Safety In Numbers wasn’t even on my YA radar – that is, until I won the follow-up, No Easy Way Out, through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program. At the time I requested it, I’d somehow managed to overlook the fact that it’s a sequel – and, not wanting to jump in mid-story, I decided to pick up No Safety In Numbers asap. I found myself pleasantly surprised: set in a rather mundane (even hated) locale (ugh, I shudder to think of the arduous task that was gift shopping, pre-Internet!), No Safety is un-put down-able.

Upon the discovery of the bioweapon, the mall’s immediately placed on lockdown; the occupants, quarantined indefinitely. The feds cut the land lines, jam the cell signals, and even block news channels inside the mall to keep everyone – both the captives within and concerned friends and family without – from communicating. The story follows four teens as they try to navigate this terrifying new world: exposing cover-ups, caring for the sick, and attempting escape. Stories told from alternating perspectives can sometimes take great effort to follow, but each teen and his or her voice is unique enough that they’re immediately distinguishable.

The cast of characters is remarkably diverse (as most casts should be): Marco, a busboy at the Grill’n’Shake, is a lanky, sarcastic, enterprising kid of Costa Rican descent; Lexi (short for Alexandra), is a wealthy yet socially isolated computer geek of color whose mother just so happens to be The Senator (though it’s unclear whether she serves in the state or federal government); and Shay (Shaila), a second-generation native born American, who shares with her elderly Indian grandmother a love of poetry (Tagore) and henna. The only white dude in the bunch is Ryan, the younger brother of a star high school football player who feels torn between his oftentimes cruel older teammates Mike and Drew (and the protection they provide) – and the other survivors, who are at times among Mike and Drew’s victims.

Bullies Mike and Drew are sometimes drawn like caricatures (think of Emilio Estevez and his jock buddies in The Breakfast Club, taping a nerd’s buttocks together for shits and giggles – but worse, and murderously so), and Marco takes an unfortunate detour into “Nice Guy” territory, but otherwise the characters are all interesting enough to hold my attention – and believable enough to lend credibility to the story. Doubly so: the uncaring government bureaucrats.

Told over the course of one week, No Safety In Numbers is tense and action-packed – a great summer read. Additionally, author Dayna Lorentz touches upon issues of race, class, and gender, throwing in the alienation so common to the teen years for extra emotional punch. The result is a highly readable dystopia: imagine THE LORD OF THE FLIES moved into The Apple Store. (Or maybe you don’t have to imagine, if ever you’ve stood in line for the latest iPhone release.)

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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One Response to “Book Review: No Safety In Numbers, Dayna Lorentz (2012)”

  1. Book Review: No Easy Way Out, Dayna Lorentz (2013) » V for Vegan: Says:

    […] one in the series (No Safety in Numbers) introduced us to four protagonists – Lexi, Shay, Ryan, and Marco – through whose eyes we saw […]

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