Published: July 4th 2013 by Bloomsbury Sydney
Format: Paperback, 294 pages
Genres: Science Fiction
Goodreads ● Booktopia ● Bookworld
In a world in crisis, children are the future. Part of the cure. Not now. Children are deadly. Marked one to ten. Fiona is a TEN. She just doesn't know it yet . . . She doesn't know her true strength.
Fiona doesn't remember going to sleep. But she has woken to find her entire world has changed - her house is abandoned and broken, and her neighbourhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right wrist that she doesn't remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. And she's right. When the honeybee population collapsed, a worldwide pandemic occurred and the government tried to bio-engineer a cure. But instead the vaccination turned people into ferocious, deadly beasts. They have been branded as a warning to unvaccinated survivors. Key people needed to rebuild society are protected inside a fortress-like wall. Fiona has awakened branded, alone and on the wrong side of the wall . . .
I was pleasantly surprised by Stung. I was expecting yet another run-of-the-mill dystopian book but what I got was something so well crafted and believable that I can’t wait to dive into the second book as soon as I can.
Stung begins with our protagonist, Fiona, waking up and realising she’s lost years of her life. The last thing she remembers is being thirteen and the world being worried about bees, which had become an endangered species. She gets attacked by a monster wearing her brother’s eyes, and is soon hiding from dangerous people that are trying to find her for some unknown reason. She’s soon crawling through the sewers (shudder) and encountering all manner of disgusting or creepy things and people.
I was surprised by how much I ended up liking Fiona, because at first I didn’t like her at all. She’d lost her memory and trusted the very first person she saw in this weird world she awoke in, and I was prepared to read a book about one of those too-stupid-to-love protagonists in YA. So I was surprised when she showed she’s actually quite bright and resourceful. I like her because she doesn’t have any special powers – she’s as normal as me, and trying to figure out whats happened to the world she knew while running from people who want to harm her.
I loved the romance between Fiona and Bowen. It wasn’t insta-love and it wasn’t weird and clingy. Like Fiona herself, the romance was realistic and tinged with sadness and fear. It helps that they knew each other before everything went crazy, because the author didn’t have to spend too much time having her characters awkwardly get to know each other – they both had memories of one another and understood each other before falling in love. OK, so the use of the word LOVE was a bit rushed, in my opinion, but I’m willing to overlook it because they thought they were going to die.
I think the world of Stung is very interesting because I know that we would all be screwed if bees were to go extinct, but this book takes it further with the mysterious flue and the vaccine that started doing more harm than good. The background and history of what happened in the years that Fiona is missing comes to light slowly and naturally in the book. There are no real info-dumps or long conversations about what has happened – when the reader needs to know something, the information is worked cleverly into the story.
I have no real explanation for why it took me so long to pick up Stung, except to say that I drastically misjudged it when I first heard of it. This is a wonderful book which brings something new to the dystopian genre, and I don’t think it should be missed by those who are, like me, sick of reading the same basic stories. I’ll be reading Cured as soon as I can!