STARRED REVIEW
September 08, 2014

Bubbling to the surface

By Alaya Dawn Johnson

The last thing Emily Bird remembers is the party. It should have been just another networking event to connect prep-school students with internships and Ivy League acceptances, especially within the elite Washington, D.C., African-American community. But when Bird wakes up days later in a hospital room, she knows she’s forgotten something important about that night. That feeling is further reinforced when mysterious messages begin hinting that she knows a secret about a deadly terrorist-linked flu virus that’s recently reached pandemic proportions.

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The last thing Emily Bird remembers is the party. It should have been just another networking event to connect prep-school students with internships and Ivy League acceptances, especially within the elite Washington, D.C., African-American community. But when Bird wakes up days later in a hospital room, she knows she’s forgotten something important about that night. That feeling is further reinforced when mysterious messages begin hinting that she knows a secret about a deadly terrorist-linked flu virus that’s recently reached pandemic proportions.

With her house quarantined and her high-profile parents vanished, Bird and her friend Marella try to uncover the truth within a network of lies. But a dangerous spy from a secret organization is also on the prowl, hoping to discover Bird’s missing memory before she can use it to unmask what may be a worldwide conspiracy.

Like the best young adult dystopias, a just-futuristic apocalyptic setting perfectly complements the protagonist’s personal identity struggles. Is she the meek and obedient Emily or the independent, powerful Bird? Which of her highly cultivated friendships are just alliances, and which are real? Does she have the courage to break up with Paul, the boy her parents expect her to date, in favor of Coffee, whose passion for organic chemistry extends to making his own designer drugs? How can she navigate a society where her race is constantly working against her? And what’s the point of planning for the future when the world might end at any moment? Love Is the Drug is a suspenseful, empowering and emotionally honest read.

 

Jill Ratzan reviews for School Library Journal and works as a school librarian at a small independent school in New Jersey.

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Love Is the Drug

Love Is the Drug

By Alaya Dawn Johnson
Arthur A. Levine
ISBN 9780545417815

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