Told in alternating third-person narratives by teenage citizens of Las Anclas (a desolate future Los Angeles), this dystopian novel follows a town’s attempts to survive after a solar storm ravaged the world and mutated some of its inhabitants. The setting is both bizarre (deadly “singing” trees can kill humans) and familiar—the story has a “wild west” atmosphere as the town battles the elements and invaders with only basic weaponry. When Ross Juarez, a wandering prospector, shows up at the town’s gates half-dead and clearly hiding something, his arrival deepens the growing animosity between the Norms and the Changed. Soon, Ross has the attention of two of Las Anclas’s most eligible bachelorettes, the suspicions of the town’s leaders, and the eye of a bounty hunter who has been paid to capture him. The story’s characters and their tightly woven relationships are well developed, and Brown (All the Fishes Came Home to Roost) and Smith (The Spy Princess) provide plenty of narrative diversity, making each character’s entry feel fresh, distinctive, and unexpected. The buildup to the action-packed ending does not disappoint. Ages 14–up. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/06/2014 Release date: 11/13/2014 Genre: Children's
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