Set in a dystopian New York City after a mysterious sickness wipes away all the adults and very young children, teenagers are the only ones left fighting to survive. After the previous leader turns 18, thereby becoming an adult and succumbing to the sickness, Jefferson is thrust into the role of reluctant leader. Along with his crush Donna and a handful of fellow tribe members, they embark on a dangerous road trip across the city in hopes of finding out whether rumours of a cure are true.
Told in alternating POVs between Jefferson and Donna, the perilous tale unfolds from the beginnings of their journey at Washington Square Park as the tribe meanders through familiar streets and landmarks while battling rival tribes. While this kind of “teenagers must save a dystopian world” story feels familiar over the last few years, I enjoyed the New York City setting. The book started off strong but somewhere around the middle towards the end, it lost momentum for me. I felt fairly invested in Jefferson & Donna’s story until I suddenly found that I really didn’t care anymore. The interactions between these two protagonists when one likes the other, but then other people come into the picture at the wrong moment… it seemed all too cliché.
What did surprise me was the survival rate of some of the characters. Weitz had no hang-ups about keeping everyone alive, that’s for sure. The battles are violent, and I suppose as it is with a disease-ravaged city, nobody is safe. The action definitely ramps up as it nears the end of this first book of a new series with a startling revelation that sets it up for the subsequent book(s). The Young World would be a great read for those that love stories with action and fighting, with quests and friendships set in a dystopian world.