Teen Ford Falcon (nee Maggie) headlines a fast-paced, post-apocalyptic Laura Ingalls Wilder wilderness story, complete with morning chores and Ma’s dreams of a cabin with windows.
At “that age where I’m not sure who I am,” Maggie is haunted by memories of a previous life. Now, after the ravages of wild weather fluctuations and the “Patriotic Partnering” of agro-giant CornVivia with the government, many have chosen to live safely sequestered in cities UnderBubble—but Maggie and her family fled to the wilds of OutBubble. Outside the protective domes, Maggie and her family stay “busy scavenging, scrounging, and surviving”; neighbor Toad (speaking in pig Latin and Spoonerisms) helps out. Zombie-like GreyDevils (juiced up on the homemade hootch known as PartsWash) lurk in the woods, desperate for stray grains of CornVivia’s potent, genetically modified URCorn—and there’s evil in that there corn….Perry creates an engaging contrast between this hardscrabble world and Ma’s desperation to maintain standards of civilization; Emily Dickinson and Earl Grey tea enjoy central roles in the tense mother-daughter relationship. With plenty of contemporary issues wrapped around a good story, this new take on familiar post-apocalyptic imagery with a science-gone-awry theme should make fertile ground for book-club discussions and teen-survivalist daydreams. Sufficient unanswered questions exist to fuel a sequel, but there’s no cliffhanger—Perry provides a satisfying closing for his restless heroine.
Comparisons to other gritty, engaging tough-girl-with-a-strong-moral-compass stories are inevitable, but Maggie has originality and grit to spare. (Post-apocalyptic adventure. 8-12)