Interleaved with this is the story of another group inhabiting the mountain at some time in the post-virus future and worshipping the Great I AM. Their young leader is Beckett, and most of this second story is told from his point of view as he faces challenges from some of those he thought were his friends and decides what to do when a mysterious girl, Greta, appears on the mountain. He falls for her, but is she a spy from a terrorist group?
How do these two stories connect, and do they work together? Initially, I found Icie's story much more compelling and would look ahead to see what was going to happen next before reading Beckett's sections. However, I was gripped as the connections became more apparent and it became obvious that something of Icie had survived - the language and rituals of the group owe a lot to 21st-century teen vocabulary with "Whatever" elevated to a sacred word. Even the characters' names begin to take on a significance related to our own time. Eventually, both Icie and Beckett discover the mountain's dangerous secret which has a profound effect on their lives.
If you enjoy this book, you might like others on Survivor, a list from Strathclyde University:
"Mostly set in apocalyptic versions of the future, the books on this list share a common theme: the battle for survival. Their central characters, usually teenagers, have to overcome fire, floods, demons or some other horror as they struggle to build new lives or new societies. As well as being good stories, the books will also make their readers think about the way we treat our world today."Half Lives certainly fits into that theme.
Disclaimer: I won this book from the Indigo & Orion Children's Books in a draw, but I was not required to write a review, favourable or otherwise. The book will now be donated to the wonderful Glasgow Women's Library which has recently started collecting books for younger women.