Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Savage End

Sometimes we don't stop and think about all the things that could go wrong in our precious, carefully orchestrated lives. When a mega-tsunami creates a chemical leak that changes the Four Corners are forever, a group of kids must learn to grow up quickly. In the Monument 14 conclusion, Savage Drift, Emmy Laybourne wraps up the story of those kids and how they had to change with the world. 

It wasn't easy, but Dean, Alex, Niko, Astrid and the other kids made it to Canada. In the refugee camps, life isn't easy, but it is far better than where they came from, running from criminals, looters, and worse, the compounds that changed them with every exposure. They have carved out a little life in the camp, but they never expected to see someone they thought was dead in the papers. When Niko finds the picture of Josie in the news, he insists they must go get her out of the O concentration camps they are keeping everyone who might go crazy in. Josie lost it to save their lives, and they can't leave her there with all those criminals. 

At first Dean and Astrid refuse to entertain the idea. They can't leave the kids behind, and with Astrid's pregnancy, it is too dangerous to travel, especially with the rumors of "drifts" where the compound was collecting and moving with the wind. But when they catch on that exposed pregnant women are being taken without their permission for testing, Astrid worries about her unborn baby's life. When they finally make their way out of the camp, the world outside is no longer as they remembered it. Things have changed, but so have they. 

This series has always been a little juvenile and unsophisticated. It has been a good alternative to the darker PA stories for middle school students, but it did reveal Laybourne's struggles to conclude and stretch the story simultaneously. I think older students would find it too tame and childish, but my middle school students who wanted to read a PA story seemed to like it, and I didn't have to worry about mature content. Unfortunately, that juvenile quality also made the story a little one dimensional. And the ultimate conclusion, while not that bad, felt rushed and predictable. 

Ultimately, I think the story would have been better if it had ended with their arrival in Canada. This installment wasn't really necessary, and that showed. It felt like the push to squeeze out a trilogy along with every other author out there, and the stretch showed through. It was interesting, but I think the story would have been better if the first two books had been combined as one and ended in Canada. I originally picked this story up for the content, but I am not sure if I will read Laybourne's next book, although I imagine it would be a decent middle reader for that age group. I just don't think I am partial to her writing style. 

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