Age Range: 14 & up
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 In a harsh vision of the near future, three children flee across a landscape devastated by war and toxic waste. Portland, huddled around a mall that's the only remaining source of safe water and shelter from the now-deadly sun, is one of the last remnants of civilization in the US--but rumor has it that farming of some sort is still going on in Idaho. Lured by that hope, Phoenix and Madonna evade police and stow away on a barge bound up the Snake River. On board they meet Brat, a mutilated feral child whose diet of garbage is slowly killing her. The three survive an attack by Shoshone tribesmen desperate to stop the pollution of their river and escape New Hanford, now a deathtrap due to leaking nuclear waste. Both major and minor characters are larger than life (Phoenix, a dreamer driven by the hope of peace; Madonna, surly, practical, given to wild behavior; Brat, a ruined beauty with an angelic singing voice); they move through a society marked by filth, insanity, and sexual innuendo. Almost as an afterthought, the author allows them to reach their Promised Land in the last four pages; though they aren't disappointed by their discovery, emotionally exhausted readers aren't going to find much relief. A nightmarish first novel. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-385-30881-7
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993