Eva has never felt like she belonged . . . not in her own family or with her friends in New York City, and certainly not at a fancy boarding school like Hardwick Preparatory Academy. So, when she is invited to join the Fives, an elite secret society, she jumps at the opportunity to finally be a part of something.
But what if the Fives are about more than just having the best parties and receiving special privileges from the school? What if they are also responsible for keeping some of Hardwick’s biggest secrets buried?
There is only one reason why Connie would volunteer to be one of the six students to participate in testing Hardwick’s nuclear fallout shelter: Craig Allenby. While the thought of nuclear war sends her into a panic, she can’t pass up the opportunity to spend four days locked in with the school’s golden boy.
However, Connie and the other students quickly discover that there is more to this “test” than they previously thought. As they are forced to follow an escalating series of commands, Connie realizes that one wrong move could have dangerous consequences.
Separated by sixty years, Eva and Connie’s stories become inextricably intertwined as Eva unravels the mystery of how six students went into the fallout shelter all those years ago . . . but only five came out.
An excellent read looking at secret societies, mysteries, psychological experiments and manipulation, with dual timelines and points of view between the characters of Connie in the 1960s and Eva in the modern day.
I loved the themes within this book. It looks at the rules of society and civilisation, and how quickly (in a seemingly desperate situation) you can be manipulated with the need to cling on to leadership and rules for survival. Also, how this need can lead to rushing in and taking actions that are impulsive and can have major repercussions. It is a great mystery with a Lord of the Flies vibe to it.
I enjoyed the two timelines, discovering how they fitted together and how the mystery unwinds through the eyes of both Connie and Eva. The characters are likeable and the slow build romance with Eva and Erik was a cute side story. I would have liked to know more about Connie and Betty (their emotions and friendship) in the immediate aftermath of what happens in the Fallout Shelter, and how the Fives were formed from this. There must have been more psychological manipulation from the trauma experienced as a group for this to happen.
The level of suspense throughout the book keeps you wanting to read more. It is the sort of story that you can read quite subliminally and enjoy, but could also take the time and delve into the multilayered psychological aspects of the characters (Andy Kraus and Craig Allenby are fascinating in this respect with their personalities and motivations) and the dynamics both in the 60s and in the present day with the initiations and rules of the Fives. I could spend hours unpicking and discussing this!
Thank you to Harper360YA for sending me a proof copy of this brilliant book!