KALAHARI by Jessica Khoury


Age Range: 12 - 16
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Sarah is forced to explore her own boundaries when left not just on her own, but wholly responsible for others.

Sarah is not your average teen. Raised by zoologists in a series of remote and isolated environs, she doesn't really know how to relate to the teens who have come to Africa's Kalahari Desert on an educational safari. They thrive in cities and rely on electronic gadgets, while she relates to animal behavior and indigenous lore. In many respects, Sarah doesn't even speak the same language as these sophisticated visitors. But when her father is lost, her guide friend killed, their camp destroyed, and the survivors become the target of a paramilitary group, it's up to Sarah to lead them to safety. This means trekking across the desert, finding food and water, and avoiding animal predators and determined mercenaries on the hunt. But all this pales when Sarah discovers that some of the animals have been infected with a deadly disease...and that virus has now spread to her. The novel is part adventure, part science fiction and part love story, all parts in service to its theme of exploring independence and responsibility. Regrettably, narrator Sarah too often refers to guide and friend Theo as “the Bushman,” a device that both distances and exoticizes him.

Cultural infelicities aside, a gripping adventure. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-595-14765-3
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2014


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