The Darkest Path

Jeff Hirsch. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-545-51223-7
Hirsch returns to the post-apocalyptic well of his first two books, The Eleventh Plague and Magisterium, in this bleak and somewhat familiar novel. The archetype at play is a military-religious one: a man named Nathan Hill has founded his own church and taken over several southern and western states. The former U.S. has been mired in a civil war ever since, and Callum Roe and his brother, James, were two early converts to the cause, captured when they were kids and forced into service. After bonding with a stray dog, Cal kills a superior officer to save the dog's life and becomes a fugitive. His journey out of occupied Utah and attempts to subvert the cause he once fought for intermix with his meeting an attractive girl named Nat and joining the U.S. forces. The novel hits its stride during well-choreographed action sequences and in occasional scenes featuring Hill, a demagogue who rarely comes across as the evil force he embodies, showing empathy when talking to Callum even as he perpetrates horrific acts of war and terror. Ages 12–up. Agent: Sara Crowe: Harvey Klinger. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/14/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
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FORMATS
Paperback - 978-0-545-51224-4
Book - 978-0-545-51225-1
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