Survivors struggle across a lawless, environmentally devastated Alaska, seeking civilization and safety.
Seventeen-year-old Travis’ family thought they could survive by roughing it after the United States government withdrew from oil-drained Alaska, but three years after the wider scale evacuation, they find natural resources—devastated by two fires, the first set by the government to destroy military bases—dwindling beyond survivability. The lethal threats Travis and his 10-year-old sister encounter include food scarcity, natural dangers, including wildlife and river crossings, and—of course—other humans. Every time he encounters people, Travis must evaluate them as either helpful, in need of help, or deadly enemies. Travis’ first-person present-tense narration, combined with short, punchy chapters, keeps the story at a heart-racing clip even when the characters themselves are slogging through slow-moving, treacherous landscapes. While dealing with hardship and losses, Travis gleans bits of information about what has gone so wrong (with a dash of geopolitical exposition at the end) and experiences multiple facets of human nature. Travis’ family is assumed white, as are most characters; one with dark hair and eyes leans heavily and stereotypically into her Native ancestry, expressed as a fractional genetic heritage, waxing romantically about dancing, praying, and how the land needs a chance to heal. The exquisitely described land sometimes has a stronger personality than characters—and environmental consequences are well-deployed in the plot.
A rugged wilderness lover’s post-disaster survivalist tale. (Adventure. 13-18)