When a comet passes through Earth’s atmosphere, prepubescent children everywhere awake to find that all the adults have been killed by space dust from the comet. Thirteen-year-old Abby, 12-year-old Jordan and 2-year-old Toucan find themselves alone in their home on Castine Island, off the coast of Portland, Maine. Their father, the island librarian, had moved them from Cambridge, Mass., back to his childhood home, and their mother would eventually follow when she could find a new job. Now, Abby must take care of Jordan and Toucan. They share resources and consolation with neighbors Kevin and Emily Patel, also outsiders by island standards. Extremely smart Kevin figures out how to repair their Internet connection and helps decipher the CDC’s radio announcements. Eventually, 28 other survivors on the island move into a mansion with the Patels, Abby, Jordan and Toucan, where they begin to farm, perform chores and dispose of bodies. The older children face even more dire circumstances: Nearing puberty, they run the risk of becoming infected by the space dust. When the CDC announces the release of antibiotics in Boston, Jordan and Abby—who, having now reached puberty, are deathly ill—volunteer to go to the mainland and return with enough pills for the whole island. This well-thought-out novel plots the days and months following the deadly comet’s aftermath, including the fortitude of adolescents as they deal with the deaths of their parents and figure out how to survive. Although the children on the island mostly work together, Cramer also gives glimpses of all that could go wrong with a society led by children. With cruelty and bullying inexorably linked to the children’s survival, Cramer’s novel is reminiscent of other dystopian YA novels, although its modern take is decidedly unique. The faceless adults of the CDC create the antibiotics to provide the cure, but the real heroes are the children—Abby and Jordan especially—who look to pass on kindness and camaraderie despite the intensely competitive, grim circumstances. Cramer creates a picture of our world that’s both frightening and inspiring in this heartfelt story that both young adults and adults can enjoy.
A heartwarming but not overly sentimental story of survival.