The main characters from book 1 make a reappearance: some alive, some as casualties. Kelly Lawrence and Reis Anderson are recuperating at the NASA location. The doctors there are having difficulty though disconnecting Kelly’s brother, Jack Minnow, from the simulation pod and Pandora’s hold on him. And Jack doesn’t want to leave the game. He’s found and developed a bond with another player, Sasha Vaness, who though still alive in the game, was one of the casualties in real life.The Lunar Receiving Laboratory was only meant to be a temporary stop for the Apocalypse Game players. On their recovery, they are to be bussed to the nearest evacuation camp in Fort Worth. Jack refuses to leave the lab and Sasha’s personality trapped inside Pandora as does Reekha Soodi, another player from book 1 who believes her husband, Naresh, is also trapped within. Kelly and Reis are both anxious to find their way back to California to check on family.
While Jack and Reekha conceal themselves at the lab, Reis and Kelly leave with the other gamers on busses headed for the Fort Worth evacuation center. Along the way, the bus convoy is attacked by a band of end-of-the-world mutations or Primals: humans that have survived and been changed somehow by the caldera eruption. Those that survive the attack crowd onto one of the other buses and make their way to the evacuation camp only to be redirected to Austin: no room in Fort Worth. The story continues from Austin as Kelly and Reis get on a train headed west and their goal – San Diego and CyberNexis, and from NASA headquarters where Jack and Reekha remained.I enjoyed this installment of the series, and yes, there appears to be a third book coming – Welcome to the Apocalypse – Primal Scream (yay!) I enjoyed that a good portion of the story was set in my state near where I live and work. Of course, I compared for accuracy and found big differences, but who knows how the landscape would have changed after a supervolcano erupted, right? I recommend this book and this series but readers do need to have read the first book in the series to enjoy this one.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader copy of this book.