In the launch of first-time novelist Quinney’s dystopian series, teens living in a survivalist’s isolated homestead grapple with end-time challenges.
Idahoan teen Ben Elliott is ridiculed by his peers. They dub him “Scavenger” because he buys various items in bulk for his prepper grandfather and guardian, Gramps. Certain the world will soon crumble, Gramps has stocked “the Place,” a remote area with a house, a barn, and a few other outbuildings. Indeed, the apocalypse evidently begins, which Ben’s fellow schoolmates, Artemisia “Artie” Ames and Timothy Rich, experience firsthand. Some people, including Artie’s family, suddenly and inexplicably die, while mysterious soldiers take others away in vans. Ben and Gramps have largely kept the Place a secret, but Artie and Tim both manage to find their ways there. Though unsure of how much of the world has been affected, the small group slowly settles in and preps for winter. It isn’t long, however, before additional survivors show up. Ben welcomes them but now has to relegate chores, like cooking. Worst of all, it seems a stranger followed the guests to the Place, which could conceivably endanger everyone. Quinney subverts the post-apocalypse formula by focusing almost solely on the cast. In fact, what’s happening outside of the Place is largely unclear; readers learn no more than the characters. Artie is a standout. She’s resourceful when immersed in the chaos of death and soldiers and proves herself intelligent and compassionate. Nevertheless, her unique ability to sense “something bad” happening serves little purpose since her vague warnings, at least in this installment, aren’t very helpful. The plot maintains a constant ominous menace; any unknown individual, for example, in the vicinity of the Place is a potential bad guy. Furthermore, the uncomplicated prose fosters a steady momentum, especially with beaucoup details about compiling and organizing the Place’s mass of amenities.
A doomsday tale that distinguishes itself by concentrating on character development rather than global annihilation.