Following a helicopter crash in the heart of London that released an engineered virus known as Evolve, the government began a massive cover-up and misinformation campaign. As a result, the world believes everyone in London was killed in a terrorist attack on what became known as Doomsday. The entire area is cordoned off and strictly patrolled inside and out so there is little chance of the general population knowing what really is going on within the Toxic City. Jack, his former girl friend Lucy-Anne, his nine-year-old sister Emily, and friends Sparky and Jenna want to learn what really happened to their loved ones inside the city. When Rosemary sought them out with an offer to lead them into the forbidden zone, Jack and his friends felt they had to go in, despite the many risks.
The teens quickly learn there are survivors within the Toxic City; most are humans who were altered by the virus with each person manifesting some amazing power or another. Rosemary is a healer, some can alter perceptions, find people or a litany of other powers but those gifts do little to protect them against the Choppers, government forces who patrol the city looking for Irregulars as the enhanced survivors are called. Those unfortunate enough to be caught by the Choppers are dissected alive, there are no survivors. The Superiors, enhanced humans who fully embrace the change and resulting power, view everyone else as little more then animals and Jack’s father, now called the Reaper is the worst of the lot. Jack is set on finding his father and getting him to aid the Irregulars in their quest for freedom. After his meeting with Nomad, a figure of myth, Jack is about to discover what enhancement really means and soon, the Reaper may be the least of his problems.
First in a new young adult series, Lebbon introduces a likeable cast of characters complete with uber villains and heroes, superpowers and a resourceful bunch of kids who have had to grow up fast. The government’s response to the crisis is particularly interesting if gruesome which, when added to the excellent character development and different story threads, add up to an inventive read that will entice readers of all ages. The unresolved questions will leave fans looking forward to the next title in this new series to watch.