A suburban family flees the breakdown of law and order following a massive natural disaster in this tense near-future tale. It's 2008, and in the two years since Mount Rainier exploded, a steady rain of ash over much of the world has led to strict anti-pollution laws. Cars and trucks are virtually banned, electric power heavily rationed, fresh food has become a rare commodity—and horror stories of riots and rampant crime are starting to come out of the larger cities. Heading for a summer cabin, the Newells make a surreptitious exit from Minneapolis on a pedal- and wind-driven contraption cobbled together by 16-year-old Miles from bicycles and a sailboat's mast. It's a changing world through which they travel, in which small towns are closed or hostile, a fast-food breakfast costs nearly $100, and bandits on motorbikes prey on unwary strangers. Worse, the cabin, when they reach it, is already full of refugees who aren't inclined to move on. As in his other books (Hard Ball, 1998, etc.), Weaver has made this a male-oriented story, in which the men do most of the planning, fighting, and bonding, while the women may not always be passive bystanders but tend to cause more problems than they solve. Stubbornly aliterate but gifted with both an eidetic memory and great mechanical aptitude, Miles makes a memorable narrator/hero—not infallible, but competent enough, in the end, to lead his family to a place of safety. An absorbing tale set against a disturbing, plausibly developed background. (Fiction. 10-13) Read full book review >
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