The world has ended. A small group of children survive in a ranch surrounded by desert. They have been saved, their Teacher explains, because they are brilliant and special. The children themselves are not so convinced of this. To each other, they seem a ragtag bunch, plagued with peculiar obsessions. One of the girls, 12-year-old Eider, is haunted by memories of a girl named Robin, whom Teacher said was imaginary. A boy named Finch strains to remember how to construct a radio and is certain there is still something in the beyond. When Teacher begins testing the children in Extrasensory, with the intention of discovering which child is the most gifted, a new uneasiness comes between them. Just when Eider begins to cast aside old dreams of Robin and a world beyond, she and Finch make a discovery that changes everything.
The simplicity of Kirsten Hubbard’s storytelling works well with the limited understanding of the children’s situation. Clues of a world beyond creep in and out of the narrative as easily as half-remembered dreams, keeping the reader as hesitant and suspicious as the children themselves. The story has a creepy edge similar to that in The Giver, allowing readers to imagine a truth that could be dreadful or benign. For that reason, the abrupt ending can be forgiven, since it draws the suspense out until the very last page. This is a good recommendation for young fans of Margaret Peterson Haddix or Suzanne Collins.
Diane Colson is the Library Director at City College in Gainesville, Florida.