Survival is just the beginning in this action-packed middle grade adventure that’s Mad Max for kids.
Thirteen years ago, the world ended. A deadly chemical called Waste began to spread across the globe, leaving devastation in its wake. Millions died. Cities fell into chaos. Anything the Waste didn’t kill, it mutated into threatening new forms.
Kobi has always believed he and his dad were the only survivors. But when his dad goes missing, Kobi follows his trail—and discovers a conspiracy even deadlier than the Waste itself.
Nonstop action, chilling dangers, and edge-of-your-seat twists make this gripping, fast-paced read perfect for young readers who love survival adventures like Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet and dystopian series like Jeanne DuPrau’s City of Ember.---from the publisher
288 pages 978-0062696977 (paperback) Ages 9-13
Keywords: survival, action/adventure, dystopian, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, 13 year old, science fiction, father/son, If You Liked Maze Runner
Kobi and his father, Jonathan Hales, have lived in an abandoned school in Seattle since the Waste devastated the world around the time Kobi was born. There are no other survivors, unless you count bears, wolves, giant rats, and the horrible, predatory Chokerplant. There are also flying Snatchers, machines that pick infected animals up from the ground and might take humans if they are not careful. When his father gets very ill because of the Waste seeping into their compound, he returns to his lab to get more medicine, telling Kobi he will be back in two weeks.
When he doesn't return, Kobi sets out to find him, braving the dangers to get to the local hospital. He doesn't find his father, but he does find some children who claim that the organization behind the Snatchers are actually the good guys who have helped to take care of them. Kobi doesn't believe this, and when he is captured, he starts to understand why.
Melanie is the Guardian that the kids like most, but she tells him horrible things about his father, which he tends to believe-- his father worked with the scientist who caused the Waste in his attempts to solve the world hunger problem. Not only that, but they have his ailing father, who may not survive because of all the years he was exposed to toxins. Not only that, but they give Kobi more information about his special skills and resistance to the Waste. It's still hard to tell who are the good guys and the bad guys, but Kobi's struggle isn't over. I strongly suspect a sequel will answer many questions.
Strengths: Great world building, with abandoned buildings, vicious creatures, and a scientific scheme gone wrong (even if Kirkus has problems with the science). Have lots of harrowing chase scenes, children saving the world from evil, and edge-of-your seat, nonstop action.
Weaknesses: While I love books that shade the characters so they aren't so black and white (think Delaney's The Last Apprentice which is brilliant in showing the evil in the good characters and the good in the evil ones), I still like to know who is supposed to be the good side and who the bad. This is why I never cared for Artemis Fowl. Students won't care.
What I really think: While I am tired of Dystopian novels (why imagine a future when so many bad things happen?), I still get a lot of students who like Jeff Hirsch's titles (The Eleventh Plague, The Darkest Path, Dark River Falls), Haddix's The Always War, Dan Smith's Boy X, and of course, The Hunger Games and the Maze Runner series. This will be perfect for them.
Recommended by: Karen Yingling, Librarian, Ohio USA
See more of her recommendations: msyinglingreads.blogspot.com