20 Years Later is a good young adult post-apocalyptic story. The new world is dangerous and mysterious. The main characters in the novel are teens and they know very little about the event that destroyed the world as we know it. They don't know anything about life in the past. Electricity, makeup, and most modern amenities are alien to them. It seemed more like it should have been set a hundred years in the future. Somehow it made sense because most of the characters are teens who have only known this world. The adults are very close lipped about it and are more concerned about protecting the children instead of communicating or educating. I enjoyed the gang power struggle. This type of rule seems much more likely than one central government in the event of an apocalypse. Groups just carve out their own territory and fight to defend it until they lose and someone else takes over.
I really liked the main characters. Zane is an idealist with healing powers and a desire to become a doctor. He was a little too innocent for believability's sake, more like an eight year old than a fifteen year old. With all the blood and violence he sees on a fairly regular basis, I would think he would be more worldly and cynical. Titus fits worldly cynical very well. He doesn't hesitate to make hard decisions when they are necessary. His sister's safety is his first priority and he doesn't waver from his mission at all. Erin is also more experienced and hardened than Zane. Her father is the best Hunter in the Red Lady's army and she is training to become a warrior just like her dad. Despite her hard exterior, she opens up to Titus and Zane and considers them her best and only friends. She is fiercely loyal and, like Titus, not afraid of fighting for her own safety and the safety of her loved ones. All three characters are very different and pulled in different directions, but manage to keep their friendship.
Although I liked 20 Years Later, it kind of pales in comparison to other more gritty and dark dystopias in the genre, such as The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Hunger Games. The writing does need some work. The ending was a bit of a let down, there are a few plot holes, and the frame story tries too hard to incite interest in a sequel. I will be reading the second book and I hope the story gets even better.
My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins