Love is the Drug.jpg

Love is the Drug

By Alaya Dawn Johnson

From the author of THE SUMMER PRINCE, a novel that's John Grisham's THE PELICAN BRIEF meets Michael Crichton's THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN set at an elite Washington D.C. prep school.

Meet Bird: Emily Bird, the straight-A student with good hair and a perfect boyfriend, with a perfect Ivy-League future laid out in front of her. But a chance meeting with a government agent - at what should have been an ordinary party of Washington DC’s elite - leads to Bird waking up several days later in a hospital bed, with no memory of what happened at the end of the night.

In the meantime, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping through the United States (and the rest of the world), decimating the population and forcing the government to resort to extreme measures. Quarantines. Curfews. Martial Law. And that agent - the one who changed Bird’s life forever - is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus - something about the secret work her scientist parents have been conducting in their lab - something that could be damaging to the government.

The only person Bird can trust to help her is Coffee, a quiet loner at a neighboring elite DC prep school. Sure, he’s a small-time drug dealer who supplies their classmates with Adderall and pot, but he’ll believe just about any conspiracy theory. And he believes in Bird.

But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird realizes that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

Reviews and Awards

A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2014
Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

⋆ "Johnson, who astounded with her cyberpunk teen debut, The Summer Prince, immerses readers in the complexities of Bird’s world, especially her fraught relationship with her parents and the intersections of race and class at her elite prep school. The often lyrical third-person, presenttense narration, the compelling romance and the richly developed cast of characters elevate this novel far above more formulaic suspense fare. Utterly absorbing." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“This action-packed narrative is beautifully complicated by Bird’s persistent identity crisis, through which the personal and the political collide. As a black girl growing up in Washington, Bird is keenly aware of the city’s racial and socio-economic inequities, systemic injustices thrown into sharp relief by the pandemic crisis…. Johnson captures wondrously complex dynamics in the simplest of interactions… [B]old and ambitious, unafraid to charge into territory too often avoided.” – New York Times Book Review

“Equal parts character study and thriller, Love Is the Drug offers a gripping study of identity, sly social commentary, and a chilling glimpse of a dystopia that's just around the corner.” -

"Johnson has once again crafted a consuming story, this time intertwining politics, medicine, the idiosyncrasies of family and friendship ties, and one potentially fatal attraction. Riveting in both its pacing and plausibility." - Booklist

"Johnson combines evocative writing with the plot of a suspenseful thriller in her engaging, and character-driven, novel. Bird is a true-to-life teenage heroine. Her bewilderment in the midst of political duplicity balances the intricate plot with relatable concerns about love, family, and friendship. Plenty of drama within the diverse cast of supporting characters provides excellent social context for issues the whole country has to face." - Horn Book

"Johnson blends high school drama, cloak-and-dagger intrigue, race and class inequities, coming of age, and a passionate love story, blending these disparate elements into a narrative that both requires and repays attention. Watching Bird make her way through a world filled with dangers - biological, political, personal - and find not just love, but also herself, makes for rewarding reading." - Publishers Weekly

"[Johnson] writes beautifully… The story is strongest when following Bird, a self-described “assimilated” DC black girl, as she tries to stay true to herself amid not only the terror of the quarantine, but also the restrictive expectations and assumptions of her family and classmates. Teens looking for a fast-paced tale with diverse characters will find it in Johnson’s latest offering." - School Library Journal

"The sharp, urban setting and the inclusion of a diverse cast (African-American Bird and other characters are smoothly identified in natural ways within the story) elevate the overall achievement. Fans of Johnson’s earlier The Summer Prince will find that the author’s sharp bite and cyberpunk inclinations are still strongly present here." - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Purchase Options
Indiebound • Scholastic Store • Amazon • Barnes & Noble

Fall 2014
Young Adult Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-545-41781-5
Price: $17.99/$19.99
Trim Size: 5 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Page Count: 352
Foreign Rights: Jill Grinberg Literary Management
Translation Rights: Jill Grinberg Literary Management
Rights Available? yes

Also see: