After a genetic engineering “accident” resulted in a percentage of the human population turning into Ticks, insatiable creatures with a taste for flesh, teenagers across America were rounded up and placed on Farms until they turned eighteen. Lily and her autistic twin sister Mel were being held in one such concentration camp housed on a college campus. The captive teens are bled regularly to feed vampires who savor the hormonal concoction of adolescence. They are fed little more then junk food and are constantly monitored through embedded computer chips. Lily has spent her entire life keeping Mel calm and safe, a challenging task at best. No one knows what happens when they turn eighteen and with their birthdays’ mere days away, Lily plots a daring if desperate escape.
Lily’s escape plans are drastically altered with the appearance of Carter, an old high school crush who insists she is an abductura, a rare human capable of manipulating the emotions of those around her. Vampires have taken over humans using a powerful abductura and if the resistance movement can gain an abductura of their own, it might be possible to turn the tide and retake control. Plans to get Lily and Mel to safety quickly go awry and before too long, they are in the fight of their lives and at stake is humanity’s future.
McKay’s new young adult title takes a different approach to the vampire mythology by combining traits of vampires and zombies into the genetically engineered Ticks which then promptly overrun the country. The concept of concentration camps full of teenage blood donors with their own inner hierarchy is refreshingly different. While readers learn who is likely responsible for the Ticks and why, there is plenty of room for further development especially with an active resistance movement. Carter’s bad boy image is furthered by several actions that are viewed by Lily as nothing short of betrayal but that does not prevent her from wishing there was something serious between them. While trust is understandably a difficult issue for her, Lily’s continued disregard for instructions meant to safeguard Mel and her get tiresome toward to last third of the book. Although geared toward a younger audience, adults will likely enjoy what appears to be the first of a new urban fantasy series.