A fast-paced, brutal story of survival delivered in a clipped, no-frills style.Fifteen-year-old Stephen lives in a not-so-distant future in which multiple severe hurricanes and increasing global warming has made swampland out of much of the southern United States. The devastating flooding has caused most of the survivors to flee, and those who stayed behind get by as best they can. Luckily, Stephen’s father, an Iraq War veteran, teaches him everything he’ll need to know to keep himself alive. When his father is murdered, Stephen has to put all of those lessons to immediate use. Stephen decides to see if he can find his mother, who is supposedly still in New Orleans. On his way to find her, Stephen meets Angela, a college student whose parents have also been killed. The two join forces and head by boat toward New Orleans. Their will to live is tested again and again as they make their way through a world that has dissolved into anarchy and random violence. Even in the midst of this day-to-day drama, Stephen finds himself sorting out his feelings for Angela, which are complicated by the attraction/revulsion he harbors for his mother; he is haunted by his memories of her and the parade of lovers she hosted in their home before Stephen moved out to live with his father. What will happen when he finds her again? The straightforward third-person narration chronicles the action bluntly.
Equal parts interesting and unsettling, this one may appeal to fans of Gordon Korman and Gary Paulsen. (Fiction. 14 & up)