This book came into my possession thanks to a Goodreads giveaway.
Author Britt Holewinski states that Schism was largely inspired by Lord of the Flies and boy does it show. Think Lord of the Flies mixed with Stephen King’s The Stand (minus the supernatural elements) and you can start to get a clearer picture of Schism. The premise is fairly straightforward; a super-virus kills everything who is 14~ and older. Our story begins with three survivors, Andy, Morgan, and Charlie, who were marooned on Bermuda after the virus killed their parents. While the book is by no means perfect it is much closer to that mark than many other novels.
The pacing is the first thing that sets Schism apart from so many other post-apocalypse/dystopia novels. The three starting characters do leave Bermuda and make it to the US, but not until years after the last of the adults died from the virus. This gave Holewinski time to rebuild the various societies we see throughout the novel. As the story progresses these time changes persist; many chapters are back to back but some have time skips that are weeks or even months long. These long stretches of time make the character relationships much more believable.
Speaking of characters, the slow introduction of the cast was another great thing about Schism. Instead of having a bunch of people forcibly grouped together like many other post-disaster stories, Schism brings in new characters over many pages as the characters bump into new people who are trustworthy one or two at a time. Likewise, the group meets many people who are untrustworthy; these villains range from psychotic Mad Max types of raiders to “businessmen” who seem to fashion themselves after Scarface at the height of his power. Having characters from different parts of the world talk with different slang, idioms, and other grammatical tools was also a fun inclusion.
Events of the books take the characters all over the United States and throughout that journey readers get to see how societies have been rebuilt. While some places are your crazy, “there are no laws here” types of societies many places were more or less rebuilt to pre-virus standards by the survivors. Whether that type of scenario, kids being able to band together and get things running again, would actually happen is uncertain but it was a nice change of pace from many other novels that start with a premise similar to Schism’s. Holewinski also takes into account factors that many post-apocalypse stories tend to skip over, like bottled water becoming undrinkable and gasoline becoming unusable after sitting for a few years.
For all the things that were good about this book, it is a Young Adult novel and best read by members of a younger audience. Every important character is incredibly (unrealistically) attractive, most of them seem to have genius level IQs (Holewinski even outright states this is the case for one or two characters), and almost every protagonist ends up romantically with someone else in the group. Readers who enjoy The Hunger Games, Divergent, or similar books will likely enjoy Schism but other audiences (older readers) may not find it to their tastes. Schism is similar enough to those other series for readers to find similarly enjoyable while at the same time different enough to bring something new to the table instead of trying to ride off the success of other authors, as is oftentimes the case these days. Overall it was a good read, the author did an incredible job for her very first book, and I personally look forward to part II of this trilogy.