DEAD WATER ZONE by Kenneth Oppel


Age Range: 12 & up
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 A well-realized world of rotting docks and ramshackle buildings on the shore of a polluted lake forms the setting for this haunting character study. Summoned by his brilliant but frail brother Sam, Paul leaves his comfortable suburban neighborhood for unsavory Watertown--and finds that both he and his brother are being hunted by the quasi-legal Cityweb: Sam has discovered a mutated microorganism in the lake that, though eventually toxic, greatly enhances physical ability. But despite plenty of danger, narrow scrapes, and a lurid, violent climax, outward events seem almost incidental compared to Paul's inner struggles. Once complacent in his role as protective older brother, he's angry to see Sam growing up and away from him and racked by guilt to feel so; his turmoil increases when he meets a new Sam--preternaturally fast and strong, exultantly freed from his former metabolic disorder. Oppel explores the brothers' dependent love-hate relationship with some sensitivity, though the confessional tone gets heavy at times. Glamorous but deadly, the microorganism is like a drug, so the story can be read on that level, too; indeed, Oppel adds a subplot involving a streetwise young Watertowner searching for her lake water-addicted mother. A thoughtful story with an unusual combination of ingredients. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-316-65102-8
Page count: 152pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1993


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