I found this book on the back shelf of my library one day, expecting an easy read until I could pick up another "good" book. The series totally hooked me.
When a deadly virus called Strain 7 wipes out over 50% of life on Earth, people are left scattered, struggling to survive in urban cities. Rogue gangs run the open land in between, and the government is at a loss.
Then a sixteen-year-old girl named Keely starts corresponding with a mysterious penpal...someone who assures her that there is a place out there; a place called Novo Mundum where survivors are keeping civilization and culture alive. Keely, desperate to escape from the constant fear in her city, latches onto the promise, and begins a journey.
And across the U.S., so do others. Irene, a gentle girl with a knack for nursing. Diego, a wilderness buff with nothing left to protect him from the government troops encroaching on his land. Michael, a CEO's son whose flaky girlfriend Maggie gets him in the worst possible situation. Amber, a pregnant girl searching for the boyfriend who left her. Jonah, whose caretakers were abducted by a gang.
All of them heading into the now unoccupied wild space called The Big Empty, searching for the one last paradise in a ravaged world.
There's action. There's fear. There's fights. There's romance. All of the characters have realistic personalities, strengths, and flaws. It's an amazing apocalyptic story, but one that's more down-to-earth than others I've read. It just makes it all the easier to immerse yourself in the world.