Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Jane Yolen & Bruce Coville

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-15-201767-4
Publisher: Harcourt

The format—a story told from alternating viewpoints, with a few letters, radio and e-mail transcripts, and other realia thrown in—is becoming familiar, but two practiced writers employ the tactic and run with it in this page-turner. Marina loves her family, her faith, and her little brothers, but she is horrified when she discovers that her mother’s favorite preacher, Reverend Beelson, has just declared that the world will end on July 27, 2000; in another family, Jed accompanies his father to the mountaintop where Beelson says they will await the end of the world and prepare, as 144 of the faithful, to begin anew. They stockpile supplies, dig latrines, live in tents, and build an electrified fence to keep out everyone else. Yet these details are background to the real story of Jed and Marina’she is a Believer, and he is not—as they wrestle with faith, skepticism, family attachments, and their interest in each other. The authors pull off the remarkable feat of making the sacred tangible, of delineating what it means to believe. Beelson is a particularly rounded character: a man who believes that God has spoken and that he must obey. The harsher aspects of fundamentalist religion are not glossed over, and the final conflagration is right out of the headlines. Jed and Marina have epiphanies great and small, and they emerge whole, still searching for belief in its myriad aspects, and for each other. (Fiction. 12-15)