Author: RJ Crayton
Genre: Sci-Fi, YA, Dystopian
Publisher: Ericella Press
Release Date: 26th May 2016
BLURB from Goodreads
They said it was extremely hard to get. They said it wasn't airborne. They said there was nothing to fear. They were wrong. Seventeen-year-old Elaan Woodson was supposed to be one of the lucky ones. She got one of the few spots in the subterranean protection unit designed to keep select scientists, military officials and their families safe from the deadly virus ravaging the world above. But, how lucky are you really when the people in charge and those you love keep secrets from you? While Elaan has heard that what you don't know can't hurt you, she's beginning to think otherwise. And she should...
I had seen this series before and had kept meaning to read it. After enjoying my previous read to this, which was also from this genre, I fancied another post apocalyptic/dystopian read and chose to begin this series.
I find the cover quite striking, from the dark blue stone like colour, hinting at the darkness and sparseness within the world Concealed is set in. Then there's the red image, logo or however you would personally describe it, which I'd say represents the virus. The byline of "They said we were safe. They were wrong" fits the book perfectly and certainly draws you in wanting to know more.
When you begin reading the book you are kind of on edge and unsure whether to believe the government rather like the characters in the book. It is a missionary, Mark Dayton who brings the mutated airborne version of the Helnoan back to the US. Sadly Mark is a "carrier" and is spreading Helnoan B far and wide with anyone he comes across in his day to day life dealing with parishoners etc. The general society are told everything is under control, whilst behind the scenes scientists, and certain members of the military, etc, are being gathered together and being placed underground, in either a Scientist Protection Complex or Special Protection Unit.
There are two types of the virus the Helnoan and Helnoan B which is airborne. Both types Helnoan, and it's mutated Helnonan B make victims initially suffer, from a general feeling of being ill, followed by a fever. Victims of the original Helnoan virus rapidly become seriously ill, with symptoms such as vomiting, blood loss, bleeding from eyes, nose, ears and mouth. This is how the virus is so easily spread within the body fluids. The bodies of those who die from the virus need to be hermatically sealed and cremated to "kill" the virus.
Not every single person is able to catch either virus. There are "immune's" who are totally safe from the virus and become a sought after commodity by those who wish to experiment as well as those who want to recreate a new world and re-populate it. Then there are "carriers" where the virus lays dormant until it comes into contact with someone else who has the virus and then they become "carriers" and actually unknowingly spread the virus to anyone they then come into contact with.
The main characters we follow in Concealed are 17 yr old Elaan Woodson, her 19yr old brother Elijah Jacob Woodson and their father and lead scientist Dr James Woodson. Another scientist, in fact the second in command is Dr Kingston Wells and his son Josh Wells and they all live alongside other lab workers, military personnel and their families in the smallest Scientist Protection Complex (SPC) with only 42 occupants and space left for others to join them. Though no one from "outside" or "above" ever comes inside the complex. It would be far too dangerous as they could be infected with either of the strains of the Helnoan Virus. Due to both men having lost their wives, Dr James Woodson and Dr Kingston Wells are determined to do their level best to protect their children no matter what.
Both scientists work well together and are equally eager to find the elusive cure or vaccine.
This battle is quite personal for both the Woodson family and the Wells family as both have lost the mothers in their respective families. However they are completely different characters with Dr Kingston Wells, seems quite matter of fact about his wife's death, and having a "get on with life now" attitude. He is also forthright, at times both ignorant and somewhat arrogant, so not the best scientist to be working with or to be a lab technician for. Dr Kingston Wells also seems to have a rather strong disliking to Elaan. Could it be Dr Kingston is doesn't want his perfect boy fraternising with the likes of a mixed race girl such as Elaan, but then that can't be why, when he seems to have taken Lijah under his wing and regularly has Lijah help him in experiments as an unofficial lab technician/assistant.
Whereas Dr James Woodson is still deeply affected by Shonda Woodson's passing, he was a quieter man to begin with but now he is even more withdrawn, prefers to be alone in his grief for his wife. He is excellent at his job but at times fails to turn up to work and curiously Dr Kingston Wells covers up for him. If it is revealed James Woodson is falling behind on his important work both he and the remainder of his family would be thrown out of the SPC and be at the mercy of the virus.
There's so much going on in this book, both within the lines you visibly read to the possibilities of what could happen that you create yourself as you read the book from "between the line" using the actions and and the nuances you have already learnt about the individual characters and their unique personalities. Then there's all the things going on in the background that begin so tiny you don't notice the hints to them, that build up, become bigger and clearer and eventually unfold or in some cases burst free, and you literally say "wow didn't see that coming" or "hey, I thought that might happen!"
I am finding it really difficult to prevent myself from slipping and giving away any spoilers as well as trying to remember where one book ended and the other began as I read the whole series back to back, which is highly unusual for me to do! To say I was "gripped" or "pulled" and "held" by this book (in fact the whole series) is a bit of an understatement. RJ Crayton really has you become attached to the characters, even the ones you enjoy dis-liking like Dr Kingston Wells. Something I don't usually do until I have finished a book is checkout other peoples opinions and/or reviews on it. I saw a lot of low star reviews for this one and I seriously have to say I totally disagree! The pace in the book is fast enough for you to read it and not become bored, yet slow enough to give you some "on the edge of your seat" moments.
Favourite characters are naturally the three teens, Elaan, Josh and Elijah. If I had to pick just the one I'd say Elijah, or Lijah as his family call him. I loved the way he was determined to protect his sister from getting hurt by Josh. Lijah knows something about Josh, that he has promised not to reveal, he thinks it's not his place to do so and that either Josh should not pursue a closer relationship with Elaan or he reveal the secret and let Elaan make an informed decision on whether to go ahead in a relationship with Josh. All this time (you realise later in the book, and most certainly in the series) that Lijah only ever has Elaan's best interests at heart. Elaan goes from thinking that Lijah is jealous as she has a love interest and there is no one suitable in the SPC for him. To thinking he doesn't want to see her happy again after losing their mum. At one point she also thinks that Lijah is gay and wants Joshua for himself!!! This is something I won't reveal as the whole story, misunderstandings, reasons for secrecy etc all unfold bit by bit in the book and end up totally explained within the series. The place this book finishes really has you sitting at the edge of your seat and perplexed at what will happen.
This book really had me thinking and asking questions all the way through as you can see in my Goodreads "diary" log, they ranged from: What is the secret that Josh can't tell Elaan that Elijah discovered?, What could be so bad that would make Elijah want Josh to stay away from Elaan? Could Elaan really be right about Elijah that he is gay and that he may have accidentally found out Josh is gay or bisexual too?" My immediate thoughts upon finishing Concealed BK1 in the Virus Series were . . A really good start to a possibly great series! Can't believe how it ended. Definitely left me with plenty of questions that need answering in the next book. The most imminent question being Will “Boxcar-Willie” double cross the teenagers?