Thursday, December 10, 2009

Exodus, by Julie Bertagna

Man, this book was excellent! I should just call the YA shelf in my library the Treasure Trove, because it seems that all the books I've read from it so far, Storyteller, The Rule of Won and Stargirl, have turned out to be pure gold! You can add this to the growing pile of winners on my list. ^_^

Here's the basic storyline: It takes place in the post-apocalyptic Earth future of 2100. (Boy, can you imagine what could happen in 90 years?) In this speculative future, global warming has melted the ice-caps and flooded most of the planet. There isn't very much human life, but at least one island has managed to survive so far, called Wing. That's where 15-year-old Mara lives. She's the main character. She loves being outside on the rare occasions that it stops being stormy on her island, she loves hanging out with her friends and visiting her grandfather figure Tain, she dreams of a better future, and she absolutely loves playing with this awesome computer-toy, a cyberwizz. Even on a small, isolated island, technology is highly advanced. (To give you a picture of just how advanced, they called a laptop computer the parents pulled out a dinosaur! =P)

While digitally surfing (you actually are able to surf in your mind!) through this old, abandoned site, called the Weave, she comes across a strange creature. A cyber-fox. He's amazed that anyone else could still be on this network as much as she is, and before she's forced to log off, he tells her he lives in this New World city, New Mungo. With some research, she discovers this New World concept is actually dozens and dozens of cities that are built a safe distance above the water. Filled with hope, Mara convinces her island to move to New Mungo, and it's a good thing, because the island was pretty close to being drowned. There aren't enough boats for everyone, however, so all the old people are forced to stay on Wing. Hey, they're going to die anyway, right? Might as well be in the place they know and love. Needless to say, Mara misses her friend Tain.

So she goes on this great adventure for New Mungo, trying to find a better future for herself and her friends. When her boat gets to the city, they find there's an enormous wall that no one can get through, and all these other boats from different islands that have tried to get in can't either. Mara also learns that her parents and younger brother, who got on a different boat, got drowned at sea and never made it to the city. Somehow though, our heroine manages to sneak her way into the city (I won't tell you exactly how, though. You'd have to read it for yourself), but only into the dark, dank basement of the city. This is where a semi-primitive group of people, the Treenesters, live. Yeah, they nest in trees.

When Mara arrives in the Treenesters' midst, they think she's some sort of prophesied hero or something, because they have a statue that, freakily enough, looks exactly like her! Even down to the scar on her face! (You'll find out how she gets the scar in the book.) Mara's not sure how she feels about that, but she lives with them for a while anyway, never forgetting though about her friends and the other boat people waiting outside the wall. One day, a Treenester friend of hers gets kidnapped by the New World police, (they need slaves for their labor, of course) so she decides to go up top and rescue him. She disguises herself in a dead police-girl's clothes, and manages to sneak her way into this world as well.

Man, this part was my absolute favorite!!! This is where you really get a taste of the shiny, high-tech future that everyone dreams about! It's like utopia! Well, of course you know that this is just a trick, an illusion, to cover up what it really is. It's like the Axiom spaceship in the Pixar film Wall*E. But still, it's really quite an awesome place. And somewhere in Mara's exploration of this amazing city, she stumbles upon the person who was behind her friend the cyber-fox all along! ^_^ My favorite chapter is when the Fox person is showing Mara these famous twentieth century figures that the world has all but forgotten. The references are hilarious. He mentions people like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Hitler, Martin Luther King Jr., the Beatles, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, even Harry Potter! Ha, can you believe it?!

Alright, that's all I'm revealing. The rest of this story is yours to discover. I want you to know that the book's writing style was simply phenomenal. I think it's because the author, Ms. Bertagna, wrote the whole thing in the present tense, which is a really exciting and involving format. Like, "Mara looks over her shoulder", or "he says," you get the idea. I'm definitely sure to check out the next book in this series, called Zenith, as well as perhaps Julie Bertagna's other novels. Trust me, this woman writes fantastic.

I love post-apocalyptic stories like this. It pretty much reminded me of the City of Ember, except the difference is that these people still know that they live on Earth, and the old ways aren't completely forgotten. I don't mind saying that all the cool cyber-stuff described in the book certainly did it for me either. Keep an eye out for this!

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