In Folan’s (Breaking Point, 2010, etc.)latest YA sci-fi/dystopian novel, survival is key.
While in his English class in Maryland, teenage Liam Harper gets the terse, frantic call from his mom, who works at the Pentagon: The apocalypse is imminent. After Liam hauls his sister, Lilly, out of her class, they race against time and survive a nuclear conflict. Together with his girlfriend, Amy, his school enemy Rod Wasserman, Lilly, her friend Elise and a handful of others, Liam must follow his “orders” and complete the 200-mile trek to the Mountain Place—a rural haven against disaster that was built by his obsessive father against the wishes of his pragmatic mother. Along the way, Liam and the diverse group of travelers face danger, hardship and challenges on the road, which change them from citizens to tough, capable survivors in a world destroyed by the forces of global warfare. Cut off from authority, the mostly adolescent cast must face doomsday without guidance. Their journey will not be without loss and suffering, and they cannot reach their goal without scars. Despite its easily recognized archetypes, the story is told without excessive melodrama and with pertinent details that are kept believable. The lightning-fast pacing wastes no time, and the mostly serviceable dialogue only occasionally descends to the stilted and mawkish with a few heavy statements: “We, too, have had to fight. And along the way, we have tried to save as many as we could,” a Muslim character says. A few typos mar this otherwise solid first entry in the teenagers-at-the-end-of-the-world genre.
A strong start to a post-apocalyptic series.