In Duncan’s dystopian novel, the United States is run by agribusinesses that control all food production.
Seventeen-year-old Tempest doesn’t know much beyond the AgraStar farm where she lives and works as a guard. Her main priority is keeping lazy scavengers, people who live outside of the system, away from the crops. This all changes when a raid goes wrong and a group of scavengers accidentally sets off a blight that kills all plants and humans in its path. Before her farm is completely destroyed, Tempest manages to get her hands on blight-resistant seeds. As the blight continues to spread, she must get the seeds to AgraStar’s headquarters in Atlanta. Necessity leads Tempest to travel with Alder, a scavenger who’s determined not to let the seeds fall into AgraStar’s hands. Duncan’s knack for character development shines through as Tempest is steadily exposed to the darker side of AgraStar and begins to question everything she’s been taught and her place in it. Though well-paced and intelligently written, the novel stumbles when Tempest makes a startling discovery in Atlanta that is never resolved before the story ends abruptly—readers will hope the flap-copy statement that this is a stand-alone isn’t really telling the truth. Tempest is a brown-skinned Latina, but in this society, she’s not able to really explore her heritage—a poignant subplot.
A thoughtful and sensitive exploration of corrupt powers and personal responsibility, especially in today’s stormy political climate. (Science fiction. 14-18)