DUSTLAND by Virginia Hamilton


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At the close of Justice and Her Brothers (1978), four youngsters sat, hands clasped, poised for their first venture as the psychically powerful First Unit, harbinger of a race to come. This is the story of their second trip, to a desolate future Dustland where the air is filled with dead creatures turned to dust. Justice, the most gifted of the four, goes with a sense of mission, though what the mission is she herself doesn't seem to know. Brother Thomas, expert illusionist and the Edmund of the group, resents her power and hates the visits to Dustland; and when Justice tames a dog-like creature who picks up their language and calls Justice Master, the other two--sickly brother Levy and neighbor Dorion, the Healer--wonder in passing if they too are her slaves. Besides the devoted "dog," Miacus, Justice communicates (less well) with one of a group of winged, three-legged humans (we must take Justice's word for it that they are human) whose Quest is for a way out of Dustland. In Dustland and on return, the four speculate on the mechanics of their situation: Can we be hurt in the future? If we're here without bodies, why the pain and blisters? Did our minds really go there, or was the trip inside our heads? But the ideas develop slowly, and not much else develops at all. (Desperate "t' beings" who try to snatch and detain the four during the Crossover home, and a shapeless Mal[evolence] that Swoops down on them on the road back home, don't grow beyond their obvious identity as overworked elements from the juvenile science fantasy tradition.) We leave Dustland still waiting for the trilogy to shape up as a story, and to reveal itself as the serious vision that seems to be promised.
Pub Date: April 21st, 1980
ISBN: 0590362178
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Greenwillow
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1980


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