The Defiant

M. Quint, illus. by Lily Padula. McSweeney's, $22 (256p) ISBN 978-1-936365-54-8
In an unsettling, fablelike debut, six schoolmates, who have little reason to like one another, must work together to survive after they are stranded aboard a centuries-old sailing ship as it drifts aimlessly at sea. Their journey takes a surreal turn when each island they encounter turns out to be populated by other groups of castaway children, each community pursuing a particular obsession. Whether the society is overly focused on democracy, dedicated to technology, or consumed by paranoia, each suffers from an imbalance of priorities that makes it unviable, even dangerous. But as the makeshift crew of the Defiant valiantly searches for safe harbor, they discover much about their own talents and strengths. Quint creates an intriguing satire on the excesses of civilization, as well as a tense adventure in its own right, but the underlying message is hard to glean. The lack of answers regarding the instigating disaster and other paranormal happenings further muddy the narrative. Padula's stylized illustrations portray the characters as almost deformed exaggerations, an unflattering aesthetic, yet one suited to the haunting, puzzling story surrounding them. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/2015
Release date: 09/01/2015
Genre: Children's
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