Klaassen blends Hatchet and The Lord of the Flies in this hair-raising, fast-paced adventure. Like those books, this novel reads like a book from another era: its anti-addiction moralizing is reminiscent of 1971’s Go Ask Alice. Narrative voice often reveals the gap in age between its author and protagonist, as when the teenage Bodie bemoans the fact that he’s stuck in the wilderness with “a bunch of young punks.” Some internal inconsistencies will trip readers up; after ongoing negative feelings toward the other characters, at the end he thinks they “didn’t seem so bad after all,” and despite Bodie’s seemingly high level of knowledge about wilderness survival, he’s afraid bats will suck his blood. And, though this is listed as a YA novel, some readers may be uncomfortable with the graphic depictions of death, murder, drug use, and hate speech.
While some newcomers to the natural disaster genre may be bewildered by the randomness and frequency of their occurrence, the novel’s emphasis on earthquakes and their fallout is sure to please disaster-movie aficionados and thriller fans alike. Part survival story, part cautionary tale, Klaassen’s short epic has plenty of twists and turns to satisfy young adult readers. Fans of coming-of-age survival novels will find much to enjoy here.
Takeaway: Earthquakes and perilous adventures abound in this high-stakes teen survival novel.
Great for fans of: Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, Larry Spinelli’s The Library Card.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: B-