By: Lili Wilkinson
Genre: YFB - General fiction (Children's / Teenage)
Published by: A & U Children
Published: 4 Aug 2020
ISBN: 9781760525057


I wake up, and for a few precious seconds I don't realise there's anything wrong. The rumble of tyres on bitumen, and the hiss of air conditioning. The murmur of voices. The smell of air freshener. The cool vibration of glass against my forehead.

A girl wakes up on a self-driving bus. She has no memory of how she got there or who she is. Her nametag reads CECILY. The six other people on the bus are just like her: no memories, only nametags. There's a screen on each seatback that gives them instructions. A series of tests begin, with simulations projected onto the front window of the bus. The passengers must each choose an outcome; majority wins. But as the testing progresses, deadly secrets are revealed, and the stakes get higher and higher. Soon Cecily is no longer just fighting for her freedom - she's fighting for her life.

The acclaimed author of After the Lights Go Out returns with another compelling YA thriller - a timely novel about the intensity and unpredictability of human behaviour under pressure.

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Imagine waking up on a bus with no memory of even who you are, with six other people who are all in the same boat.

Then the tests start, innocently at first. Simple things, like a fork in the road and you must all vote on which way the bus goes. Then they get more complicated. Like take out one pedestrian or five, five criminals or one innocent person - after you all vote the unlucky get run over and are depixellated.

But the tension increases when they must start voting for each other, and deciding which of them will end up in front of the bus. At first, the bus always stopped inches from the person chosen. But what will happen when it doesn’t?

Our main character Cecily and her friend Nia find out many things along the way, including that this is merely an experiment being carried out by a crazed billionaire to find a way to rehabilitate criminals. But are they all criminals? And this test is not the first one. How many times must they take this test to obtain the desired result?

This is a fantastic psychological thriller with themes of human nature and behaviour, rehabilitation, ethics, justice and working together to achieve results. This is an edge of your seat tale, and is a great read for those 14 years and older.

Reviewed by Rob