cover image The Bridge

The Bridge

Jane Higgins. Tundra, $17.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-77049-437-4

This grim first novel, set on a not-so-distant future Earth in a war-torn, divided city that could be Sarajevo, London, or just about any other metropolis, packs a significant emotional wallop. Nikolai Stais, an orphan, has spent most of his life as a scholarship student at Tornmoor Academy, a prestigious military school designed to produce top security officers. But while Nikolai’s senior class peers are snapped up by the Internal Security and Intelligence Services, he is denied cadet status. Soon after, rebels attack the school, and Nikolai is arrested as a traitor, though he quickly escapes. When a younger friend is kidnapped and taken across the river to rebel territory, Nikolai follows, hoping to save him, and instead discovers that the history he’s been taught may not be the entire truth. Higgins works hard to expose the religious and racial bigotry lurking behind so many military conflicts, and she is adept at showing that, frequently, neither side is without blame. Nikolai is well drawn and believable, though the story’s secondary characters, particularly the villains, are comparatively one-dimensional. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)