cover image At the Edge of the Universe

At the Edge of the Universe

Shaun David Hutchinson. Simon Pulse, $17.99 (496p) ISBN 978-1-4814-4966-3

The universe appears to be literally shrinking around Ozzie Pinkerton: erasing people, obliterating the stars, and reducing the world to little more than his town of Cloud Lake, Fla. Ozzie alone remembers the world as it was, and he’s also grappling with graduation, the vanished boyfriend whose very existence is now in question, his parents’ divorce, his brother’s enlistment in the military, and the secrets he’s keeping for his new friend Calvin. As in We Are the Ants, Hutchinson uses a science fiction overlay to explore important topics, including self-mutilation, gender identity, and child abuse. Ozzie’s friends remind him that the world doesn’t revolve around him, but Hutchinson playfully disagrees, turning the literal shrinking of the universe into a smart metaphor for Ozzie’s introversion and alienation. Ozzie’s wit and concern for his friends make him a captivating narrator frozen by the changes and choices he faces. The conceit also works as a powerful parable for victimization, as everything Ozzie knows is stolen and the people he should be able to trust constantly undermine him—or disappear altogether. Ages 14–up. Agent: Amy Boggs, Donald Maass Literary. (Feb.)