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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Intriguing New-to-Me Author Pulls Me Into Watery Dystopian World

(Image from Indiebound)

Winter 2099 - Ever since the floods began, people have been climbing upward, resettling in the highest hills and mountains they can find. As the ocean slowly swallows every patch of earth, the people of Wing, a tiny island in the northern Atlantic, are losing hope. There are no safe spots left on the watery planet; even if there were, the islanders' rickety fishing boats can't handle the rough seas. It's only a matter of time before they drown, just like everyone else in the world.

Fifteen-year-old Mara knows the end is coming. If the people of Wing don't evacuate their homeland immediately, they face certain death. It's a prospect so bleak, Mara can't stand to face it. She escapes into an ancient cyber world, the ruins of what was once an interactive superhighway linking people around the globe. Now it's useful only for escaping the real world. Except that in the strange wasteland, Mara spies what looks like a great sky city. Not everything in cyberspace is based on fact, but could this futuristic place really exist? According to a mysterious avatar roaming the cyber ruins, it does. With no choice but to trust the stranger, Mara convinces the people of Wing to flee the island and make for the great city in the sky. It's their last and only hope. Provided it even exists.

When the people reach the sky city after a perilous journey on the sea, they're stunned to find a great walled city, firmly closed to refugees. As more and more survivors anchor themselves outside New Mungo, resources become scarcer and scarcer. If Mara can't find a way inside, she'll die with the rest. She's the reason her people came to the city - she's not about to let them die when salvation is so close at hand. But getting inside New Mungo isn't easy; it may even be impossible. Mara has to try. With the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands, in her hands, she takes the plunge - literally - and enters a strange, new world where survival means something different to everyone. Can she navigate her way through this new land in time to save her people? Or will she become just another victim of the hungry ocean that is slowly consuming them all?

I've read a lot of watery dystopians lately, but Exodus by Julie Bertagna brings something new to the table. The book combines an eerie post-apocalyptic setting with a tense survival story, then gives it all a little sci-fi twist. Add in strong prose, vivid characters, and don't-blink-or-you-might-miss-something pacing and you've got an exciting, original story. I loved the first 2/3 of the novel, but the last section seems to zoom by too fast. The romance, especially, comes off as forced. That bugged, but over all I found the story to be compelling and different enough to stand out. I'd never heard of Bertagna before I saw Exodus mentioned on someone's blog - now I'm clamoring to read all her books. She's that intriguing.

(Readalikes: sequels, Zenith and Aurora (available June 2011); also a bit like Floodland by Marcus Sedgwick, X-Isle by Steve Auguarde, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, and Dark Life by Kat Falls)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find


  1. glad to see this review- Ive been toying with whether or not to pick this one up.. I may now that I've read an honest and real review! thanks!

  2. I haven't read any of the flood post-apocalyptic ones... I think I'll start with this :)

  3. Gosh another temptation....where do you find them all??

    Enjoy Spring Break!

  4. I liked this book. Not love love it but liked it. It was easy read and I want to see what else this author has to offer.
    Thanks for the review.


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