A very solid 3.5. This book turned out to be different than I expected in several ways. I don't know what I was expecting based on this excerpt from the description:America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. But for whatever reason it wasn't the Island of Dr. Moreau-esque "manimals" that are encountered throughout. I think, perhaps, I was expecting them to be more zombie-esque and less human, given this is the result of a viral attack. But, I digress.The characters were fully realized and I felt a good grasp on who they were within minutes of introduction. The main character is smart and compassionate, if a bit naive. But, that's just true to her character as a child of "the West" having grown up behind the protective wall. She's not a super ass-kicker as is often found in our leading YA dystopian ladies these days which I found kind of refreshing, actually. Perhaps it felt more realistic? She's certainly smart and capable of surviving. She's just not super human in her abilities, you know?The plot was fluid and, for the most part, exciting. At about 55% in this book became a page turner for me and I couldn't put it down.The love triangle. Ah, the love triangle. God, who doesn't hate love triangles at this point? This was probably dinged that half star solely for the inclusion of a love triangle. Thankfully, romance really isn't present in the book at all. There are little moments with each of the boys in the triangle but overall it takes the back burner to the much more important tasks at hand in the story. Much to my pleasure, when Lane catches herself crushing on one of them, she does think to herself "What is wrong with me crushing on a boy in the middle of a viral, feral manimal, infested wasteland?" and pushes her feelings aside. Yes, very good! Practical! I like it.As to the boys themselves...we have your typical misunderstood bad boy vs. the boy who is sweet and kind, but practical to a fault. So let's talk about that for a sec:We have Rafe, the impossibly handsome, charming, rogue, "wild boy" who's grown up on the wrong side of the Wall. In one of their first actual conversations we have this exchange:"Perfect. Share mine [sleeping bag] tonight and I'll take you to Moline in the morning. Deal?" My lips parted, but words failed me. He wasn't serious. He couldn't be. "You're a pig!"Yes, Lane. He is. Now, happily he goes through some excellent character development on the way but...for any younger readers, especially young women...just know that this behavior is not acceptable and you should never put up with it! Only an apology from Rafe is an acceptable way to end that conversation.Also, when boys do this:"He's [the sweet boy] a stiff, but he's the guy you can count on to do the right thing." I straightened up. "So are you." "No. I'm the guy that stays alive."They are doing you a favor by telling you who they truly are. Anything of that nature like "I'm not a good guy"...believe the boy who's saying this to you. I know in fiction there are a lot of alluring, charming, bad boys. And that's fine. Just know, the bad boys aren't so "good" in the real world. This all probably wouldn't bother me that much if I wasn't feeling as though the author is setting it up for Lane eventually picking the bad boy which makes me Also, there are some really heartbreaking moments in the climax of the book so just...prepare yourself. As sad as it was (and it's really, really sad) I'm glad the author did not shy away from tragedy. Another thing I liked, was the depiction of moral and ethical dilemmas. How do we draw the line between what is animal and what is human and who has the right to make such a distinction?And sometimes choices are made with a good heart and good intentions, but there are disastrous consequences beyond our control. Sometimes doing the right thing is wrong, and doing the wrong thing is right.Overall, a fast paced, enjoyable read especially recommended for younger teens who enjoy a good bit of the macabre in their dystopias. I look forward to the continuation of the journey in Book 2. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride!