cover image Nomansland


Lesley Hauge, Holt, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9064-2

Hauge's debut sketches a gray, cruel dystopian future where the trappings of 21st-century life (a tin of Altoids, glossy magazines) become mysteries, temptations, and symbols. On the isolated, female-only island of Foundland, Keller and her fellow Novices live a harsh subsistence life of iron-fisted regulations (no friendships, no secrets, no physical affection) and violent punishment for transgressions while training to protect their land against the feared invasion of men. When fellow Novice Laing finds a stash of forbidden objects from the Time Before, the girls can't help becoming enraptured with the clothes, makeup, and mirrors. Though the writing style is flat and unemotional, reflecting Keller's colorless world, Hauge offers a gripping study of nature versus nurture through Keller's innate desire for a friend and her struggle to reconcile her upbringing with her inclinations. There's a permeating chill in Keller's barren life that seeps out of the book and into the reader's bones: "The rare, easy weather arrives and disappears without warning, just the same way happiness can, descending, then dissolving, then gone." Ages 12–up. (July)