In a futuristic dystopia, three childhood friends in a small village are made privy to the deceit of the Temple City elders and the existence of an outside world.
Happy-go-lucky childhood friends Nathaniel Rush, Orah Weber and Thomas Bradford of Little Pond have only recently celebrated their coming of age. Despite living in a tightly controlled village where dreaming is strictly forbidden, Nathaniel dares to dream of knights and bravery. Little Pond revolves around farming, but the group spends most of its time at the Not Tree, a secluded treehouse in the woods. Moreover, all three are constantly aware of the tension between being labeled a “dreamer of dreams” and the fear of receiving a “teaching” to help keep the “darkness”—essentially man’s ability to think for himself—away. When Thomas is taken for a teaching, he returns stone-faced, with an empty look that hints at the horrors unveiled by the Big Brother–like elders in Temple City. Upon glancing at Thomas’ drained facial features, Orah says, “It remains to be seen whether what’s been taken from him returns or is gone forever.” While Litwak spends the first part of the text highlighting the simple, almost primitive lifestyle of Little Pond, the narrative assumes a frenetic, action-packed pace as Orah’s own teaching triggers a series of events that tests the friends’ pact of friendship and sacrifice. They encounter Samuel, the “first keeper,” guardian of the keep—an area where magical devices have allegedly been stored for millennia—who tells Nathaniel, “There once was an age of wonder, a time of magic and strife.” On their dangerous quest to find the storied keep, Nathaniel, Orah and Thomas learn the truth about the darkness: It’s the advanced, creative thinking that underscored societies of the past, so why are the elders intent on preventing it? Ignorance has allowed peace, but is it bliss? Despite a somewhat tedious beginning, the superb storyline and continually developing characters illuminate this engaging, futuristic tale. Perhaps most intriguing is the craftiness with which Litwack portrays today’s technological devices as magical emblems of darkness and evil. For instance, in the keep, Orah discovers telescopes and man’s visit to the moon, which leaves her in shock and disbelief regarding the existence of such an advanced, “magical” universe.
A must-read page turner.