cover image Armageddon Summer

Armageddon Summer

Jane Yolen, Bruce Coville. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201767-5

On the heels of Paula Danziger and Ann Martin's P.S. Longer Letter Later (Children's Forecasts, Feb. 16) comes another novel (on a very different subject) co-written by a pair of popular YA authors. The two alternating narrators, Marina and Jed, are both children of religious fanatics, so-called Believers who dedicate themselves to the Reverend Beelson. The Believers have brought their families to the top of a mountain to prepare for the end of the world, only two weeks away, according to Beelson. Marina and Jed are instantly attracted to each other, even though Marina believes the world really will end and Jed thinks the whole thing is a hoax. Their different points of view--and occasional interleaved ""memos"" from FBI agents, excerpts from sermons, etc.--yield a multidimensional description of cult dynamics and dangers. As Beelson predicts, there is a type of Armageddon on July 27, 2000 (Marina's 14th birthday), but, as Marina sadly concludes, it is one ""made by man. Not by God."" Yolen's and Coville's styles and narrative voices, though different, complement each other well, so that both protagonists emerge with the same depth and the action builds smoothly and steadily. Providing action, romance and a provocative message, this novel could well get teens talking. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)