By: Sarah Jensen, Deseret News"CURED: A Stung Novel," by Bethany Wiggins, Walker Books, $17.99, 311 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)
"Cured," author Bethany Wiggins' follow-up to "Stung," is a dystopia novel that takes several twists and turns and is filled with moral deterioration and those fighting against it.
In "Stung," the first book in the series, the honeybee population collapsed, causing a worldwide pandemic. The bio-engineered vaccination backfired and turned people into ferocious beasts who were branded as a warning to unvaccinated survivors. A group searched for a cure to help them and their loved ones.
In "Cured," a reliable cure has been found and there is a small group of people that aren't beasts anymore. "Cured" is told from the perspective of Jaqui, who disguises herself as a boy and goes by Jack so she can survive outside the safety of the city that rejected her.
She struggles with her self-esteem because she was obese as a child and because of her masculine disguise. Dean, one of her four brothers, has been gone for more than a year while helping a family friend. Jaqui is afraid he will never come home and is determined to find him. She sets out with her friends Fiona, Bowen and Jonah, who are secretly carrying the cure for those who are beasts.
In its journey, the group meets Kevin, and Jaqui is saved by Kevin in a clumsy moment, which continues to be a theme for her. She is not sure whether she can trust Kevin or if he is one of the Sirens she has been warned about. However, that does not stop her from falling for him, creating some conflicts of the heart.
Wiggins shows Jaqui's physical and emotional turmoil as she struggles to pull her world back together.
There is no foul language, but "Cured" has some mild violence and a few romantic scenes. The adventure flows fairly well. The romance moves at the typical fairytale pace within a love-at-first-sight style and doesn't go beyond kissing.
Starting with "Stung," the first book in the series, will help readers to better understand "Cured." Otherwise, the first half of the book can be confusing because details about the vaccine, beasts, the cure and several other important previous plot points are not explained in depth.
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