One afternoon, nearly everyone in the world disappeared, leaving Martin Maple and a village of kids to try to survive long enough to find them again.
After Martin's father leaves on a trip, Martin notices the rest of the island's population seems to have vanished as well. Because he's only ever had his father and one single friend, Martin learns about the world and self-socializes through reading books before setting off to the mainland to find out if he is truly alone. He finds the last town believed to exist, the newly named Xibalba, populated by the children left behind. Although the third-person narration closely follows Martin, a somewhat self-involved child who finds other people to be mysteries, the rich side characters come alive through their distinct traits and abilities. And Martin has an ability of his own: machinery. After spending his life at his father's side learning how to build a machine that he doesn't know the purpose of, Martin decides he will build one that will save them all. The stakes are real for the kids trying to survive in the remnants of civilization; actions have consequences. Not every question is answered, but the story is so dependent on the asking that it works.Both literary and engaging, this is the kind of book readers will want to return to for new discoveries. (Science fiction. 10-14)