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THE KINDLING by Jennifer Armstrong


From the Fire-us Trilogy series, volume 1

by Jennifer Armstrong, Nancy Butcher

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: April 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-06-008048-5
Publisher: HarperCollins

Offering a cheerless, if thought-provoking, vision of a post-apocalyptic near-future, Armstrong and Butcher open this projected trilogy by sending a large cast of disturbed or outright deranged young people on a quixotic quest. Five years after the “fire-us,” a viral plague, has seemingly wiped out every adult, Teacher, Hunter, Mother, and four younger dependents have lost their original names and all but fragmentary memories of their former lives in the struggle to survive. Enter Angerman, a schizoid teenager who fits right in despite (or because of) his frightening habit of savagely abusing a department-store mannequin he carries with him everywhere. When he announces that he’s marching on Washington to demand some Answers, the seven, plus two newly captured feral children, tag along, traveling north past decayed, deserted towns and roadside attractions to a cliffhanger ending on a beach near Jacksonville. Though all of these characters are dysfunctional—and some wouldn’t be out of place in Lord of the Flies—this is less a remake of that classic than a riposte. Readers who can see past the cast’s array of bizarre quirks and psychic scars will find that the older members of the group are fundamentally decent sorts, more concerned with keeping their younger companions safe and happy than with looking out for themselves. Still, the story is going to have to speed up—and lighten up—to keep readers engaged through two more installments. (Fiction. 11-13)