Shelbi Wescott is a high school teacher who decided to write something her students would actually read. The result is Virulent: The Release and The System (Virulent #2). The third book in the series is The Variables. This is a post-apocalyptic/dystopian book where a virus that destroys most of the world’s population is released by bio terrorists.
Lucy King is your basic high school teenager who forgets to bring her homework home. Not normally a catastrophic mistake. But on the eve of the family vacation of a lifetime, her forgetfulness sets into motion a chain of events she could never have imagined. When her brother, Ethan, takes her back to the school to remedy her mistake, Lucy ends up doing more than missing the flight: she finds herself trapped in her high school while the world outside goes mad.
The first sign of the virus is all of the dogs dying, but soon enough the humans are affected, too. Lucy and her classmates are at the mercy of their principal, who goes from power-hungry to psychotic in a few short hours. All Lucy wants to do is escape the school and get home, desperate to find out if her family has survived, but with the world a crazy mess, that is no easy task. With most of the world’s population dead, surviving becomes both a delicate balance and a desperate struggle.
But Lucy’s problems aren’t over when she reaches home. All of her family except Ethan have disappeared, and they find clues left by their father, clues that point to something far more dark than a natural illness as the cause of the destruction. Following the trail left by her father, who knows far more than Lucy wants to believe about the deadly virus, Lucy and her friend Grant head for Nebraska, where they will encounter a world beyond their wildest imaginings, ruled by a mad despot who thinks the destruction of the world’s population is an insignificant price to pay to fulfill his purposes. And he will allow no one to stand in the way of his dark plans.
The world of Virulent: The Release and The System is our world, or at least, it starts out that way. Ms Wescott’s vividly imagined picture of a world’s descent into madness is stark and startling, but her characters react in realistic ways, with all the panic and fear one would expect in this situation. The story flows naturally between drama-packed scenes and calmer, but just as emotional scenes, as the characters’ lives change dramatically as their world disappears in a few short days, leaving them someplace they never imagined they would be.