I really enjoyed this one! The whole vibe was so deliciously so eerie, the author really nailed making me feel like this is an island full of awfulness. The ambiance reminded me of The Call, which is an absolutely good thing. The Tox is... well, it sounds dreadful. It has taken the lives of many, and left its survivors with a whole host of physical maladies.
The characters are appropriately desperate to survive, to save each other, to do whatever it takes to live another day. The main focus is on three surviving roommates/friends, Hetty, Byatt, and Reese, though Hetty's POV is the main one. Hetty cares deeply for those she's come to love as family, even as she fights for her own life. Hetty's blossoming relationship with Reese despite the horrific landscape around them is beautiful, and makes the world seem slightly less dismal. We even get some insight into Byatt in her own POV chapters after the girls become separated.
One of the things I found refreshing was that these young women had the same issues that others have in our current world. Fights and hurt feelings didn't end just because the world seemingly had. Sure, they became different, but in fact the worth and value of their friendships skyrocketed, making them feel even more deeply. Setting the story in an isolated school was a great choice too, as it led to further opportunity for secrets and lies , but also opportunities for familial-like closeness among the characters as a whole.
My only real qualm with the book occurs toward the end so I am spoiler-tagging it. (view spoiler)
Bottom Line: Wholly atmospheric and delightfully messed up, this tale of young women clinging to survival- and each other- will do nothing less than captivate.