Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Exodus by Julie Bertagna


This Whitbread award children’s book is so powerful, it had me absorbed and helpless for days. Definitely for teenagers and adults rather than younger children, it is an exploration of a future, when sea levels have risen dramatically. Mara is a fifteen year old girl with vision and determination, living a subsistence level life on one of the few remaining islands in the North. Storms rage all winter and blistering hot summers send the sea level rising every year. Technology is long defunct in her community, but she has a relic from the past that she uses to explore the ruins of an old-world virtual reality internet equivalent, The Weave. Her discovery of some New World cities built out of the sea bed into the sky, gives her an idea to save her community.

When the refugee convoy reach the New World city they find that humanity has split into two groups, the intellectual elite live lives totally cut off from the Earth and reality in their techno world, while the outcasts and refugees eke out an existence in the netherworld, among the drowned ruins of the old world city. To save her people Mara has to work an even more daring plan, infiltrate the New World city, cope with its sophisticated technology and find someone she can trust.

Bravery, self doubt, trust, love, and care for humanity are all powerful emotions that drive this engrossing story. It is too near the possible truth to dismiss as mere futuristic fantasy, so is not a cosy read, but faith in the ultimate good nature and noble spirit of the few gives hope for mankind’s eventual survival. Read this for a great story, but not if you’re feeling fragile, this is no escapist read. Exodus Exodus