In an isolated society known simply as the Outpost, 17-year-old Poe Blythe has spent the past two years perfecting her design of weaponized armor to coat “the dredge,” a ship that mines gold from the Serpentine River. She’s been dedicated to this violent purpose ever since their last river voyage, when the boy she loved was killed by Raiders, a band of people who live outside the Outpost.
Occasionally Poe wonders why the Admiral, the Outpost’s authoritative leader, needs so much gold, prioritizing the dredge and its mining tools over all the other problems faced by the Outpost, including food shortages and poverty. But as long as he allows her to keep working on the armor that kills Raiders, she doesn’t care. Then the Admiral unexpectedly tasks Poe with leading a crew on the dredge’s next voyage. Why has she been given this responsibility? And is there a traitor among her new crew, or is her distrustful nature and inability to read people clouding her judgment? In order to save her crew and her beloved ship, Poe will have to question her long-held beliefs, re-evaluate the pain that has shaped her life and consider new ways to look at the world and herself.
In The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe, Ally Condie (author of the Matched trilogy) presents a heroine as flawed as her dystopian society, though the Outpost and its environs remain roughly sketched while the focus on Poe’s personality and growth evolves and deepens. Condie’s supporting cast mostly functions to throw Poe’s misconceptions into sharp relief, but there are also plenty of twists that constantly realign the characters and their motivations.
An immersive novel that owes as much to 20th-century sci-fi as it does to recent YA, The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is a mature yet accessible standalone for dystopia-loving readers.