Ever since the waters rose and drowned the world, the last bastion of civilization on Earth has been Flood City, a ramshackle affair protected from the orbital menace of the Chemical Barons by the extraterrestrial, authoritarian Star Guard. Twelve-year-old musician Max has little interest in the ongoing tension until a devastating attack upon Flood City by the Chemical Barons, the city’s former rulers, changes everything. Max meets Ato, also 12, a young Baron who winds up stranded in the wake of the incident, and the two swiftly become friends as Ato rejects his ruthless commander’s extremist agenda in favor of Flood City’s charms. Now they must work together to save the city from oppression and potential destruction. Older (Thunder Run
) conjures a postapocalyptic world packed with danger, excitement, and memorable concepts, such as marauding iguanagulls and enigmatic, posthuman vapors. With Flood City populated by people of color and the Barons primarily white, Older imbues a clear message about how whiteness is proximal to privilege. The story is at times frenetic, filled with individually entertaining elements that are sometimes undersupported; still, this is a fun, adventure-filled read. Ages 8–12. Agent: Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary. (Feb.)
Correction: A previous version of this review mischaracterized the book as a series starter; it is a standalone novel.