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After the Cure by Carrie Ryan

After the Cure by Carrie Ryan 

This story was read from the YA anthology "After" edited by Ellen Datlow. 

The story begins from darkness, both literally and figuratively.  A girl wakes up after being cured from a monstrous plague that has decimated the world.  What started as a diet pill caused havoc across the world and infected millions of people.  Eventually scientists came up with a cure for the plague.  The cure though was not all that it seemed. 

The theme of the story could be applied to many different aspects of life and growing up and living.  I could see how it could even apply to situations people are living with or through.  The bottom line that can be taken away from this story is the theme of walking in someones shoes. 

The girl wakes up from the darkness because of the cure.  The darkness representing both the actual darkness, which kills the infected people, and the lack of remembering everything that you had lived before.  Once you were cured you can't remember what life was like before you became infected, but occasionally bit and pieces will come back to you.  Also, after you are infected, you can not be affected again and the monsters will leave you alone. 

After your are cured you are sent to a camp where they make sure your safe to release, give you a name and ID if you don't remember who you are, and set you free into the world. 

The girl in the story, Vail, becomes cured and set free into the world.  She inherits her fathers house out in the woods far from civilization.  After Vail is released and moved into her new home she attempts to go back to school.  That is when she finds out that just because your cured doesn't mean that people don't hate or stereotype you because your different. 

The cured have end up learning that their thoughts and action have repercussions.  People will hunt them and blame them for everything; they are guilty until proven innocent. 

People that have not been infected, called Pures, have no idea what it is like for the cured.  Because the Pures have never been infected and never lived the life of a monster they can only guess at what living that way must be like.  If a cured person mentions that he misses living infected, the pures automatically assume the person is crazy and lock him up.  They don't understand what it is like for them to live infected and then be cured. 

The people that were infected traveled in packs.  They had a sense of community with each other, even if it was at a very guttural level.  Then when they are cured the sense of community disappears.  They discover that no one wants to be around them for the most part, and they are left to fend for themselves.  That leads to a lonely life and sometimes leaves them wishing they could go back to being infected. 

At the end of the story Vail has a decision to make.  To let someone who befriended her, a Pure, be attacked and infected and then cure him.  Or help protect him from the pack of monsters that are trying to get to them.  There is also a decision on Vails part to decide on using real bullets or cure tranqs.  Does she really want to subjugate these monsters to the horrible life that it is to be cured, yet human again?  Or does she want to just put them out of their misery completely?

I enjoyed this story overall.  It kept tension throughout the story very well.  I was constantly wanting to know what happened next and that is good in short story form.  A good start to the Anthology After.


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