Does humanity’s future hang in the balance, or is maintaining the balance a prison?
Nineteen-year-old Piri’s regimented civilization is perched atop a 40,000-foot column above what he believes to be the lifeless surface of the planet. When a transport-tube accident lands him on the surface, Piri finds the Children, who worship the Fathers who dwell atop the column. The Children hope to be Chosen each week to go live with the Fathers, but Piri has never seen people like the Children. While waiting to be chosen, the Children send crops up the column and enjoy a hard but happy life, except for the Scavs. The Children try to get word about Piri to the Fathers, but soon he settles in, gives the Children technological advice and falls in love with Niko. Captured by Scavs at his moment of greatest happiness, Piri is sent back to the city, where he learns the abhorrent balance on which humanity’s existence depends. He becomes determined to return to the Children to free them. Wooten’s debut is a derivative science-fantasy that uses its futuristic setting to turn a critical eye on theocracies while promoting the normalcy of same-sex unions. Logistical impossibilities and dim-when-the-plot-needs-it characters (including smart narrator Piri) hobble this tale with good intentions.
Sci-fi savvy teens and those glutted on dystopian futures can easily find more engaging reads. (Dystopian romance. 14-17)