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FLIGHT OF THE RAVEN by Stephanie S. Tolan

FLIGHT OF THE RAVEN

By Stephanie S. Tolan

Age Range: 10 - 15

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-688-17419-1
Publisher: HarperCollins

A slow-moving sequel to Tolan’s Welcome to the Ark (1996) in which Elijah, a young African-American empath who has escaped from a juvenile mental health facility in the Adirondacks, becomes entangled in a domestic terrorist organization. This projected second in a trilogy about the Ark kids follows Elijah after the breakup of the Ark, the therapeutic group home for child prodigies. An Ark kid is a child with special psychic powers who can link with other Ark kids to form a powerful psychic web “to tame the violence in others.” When the reader first meets Elijah, he has become so wounded from feeling the violence in the world that he has utterly withdrawn into himself. Two things pull him out: a raven with which he has a mystic link (and whose message is decidedly unclear), and Amber, daughter of the leader of the Free Mountain Militia, in whom Elijah detects a fellow Ark kid. For a story that culminates with the foiling of a plot to broadcast a particularly deadly strain of smallpox throughout the world, this is awfully slow and muddled. Elijah and Amber spend a lot of time plumbing their feelings about violence together and separately, Amber’s sociopathic brother Kenny providing a near-lethal counterpoint to the philosophizing. The ravens (Elijah attracts a flock) swoop in and out, quorking mysteriously, Elijah alternately links psychically with animals and acts as the militia’s computer guru, Amber alternately entertains doubts as to the ethics of her father’s methodologies and regrets that she, as a girl, cannot join him more fully. While the topic may be timely, there’s too much talk and not enough action; its message, too, is unclear, as Elijah commits violence in order to prevent violence, his psychic web nowhere in evidence. Only for committed fans of part one. (Fiction. 10-15)