Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Exodus by Julie Bertagna

In the year 2100 the Earth's polar ice caps have melted. The steadily rising ocean waters first envelop the cities of Tokyo and New York, setting off international panic as the inundation shows no sign of receding. Global warming has conjured storm after storm, hurricanes continually battering what remains of inhabited lands. On the island of Wing, fifteen year old Mara has spent much of her life indoors behind shuttered windows with her family, wondering how long her shelter can withstand the gale force winds. The sun is a rarity, and much of her days are spent in darkness with the wind whipping outside.

As the waters continue to rise, Mara urges the other islanders to set sail for the "New World" which she has seen in a holographic, advanced version of the Internet known as the Weave. This New World is a city that rises into the sky, far above the deluge. Out on the violent open sea, Mara is separated from her family and many of the other islanders. When she arrives at the city in the sky she is part of a fleet of refugee ships that are blocked from entering by huge walls, and hunted by armed police. Racked with guilt for leading her fellow islanders into a bobbing horde of pestilence and death, Mara decides she must find a way in, to save herself and her fellow sojourners...

While the apocalyptic storyline would seem to be rather gripping, and the dystopian setting engaging, the character of Mara ultimately turned my thumb downward for Exodus. Steadily unsure of herself, Mara is in a continuous state of doubt. While this may be a normal character trait for some - the way that Bertagna portrays it grows wearisome - and whiny. The length of the book, at 325 pages, is stretched even further by passages that are seemingly scooped up from one chapter and dropped into the next. It is one thing to illuminate a character's interior conversation, but it is another to have the character repeat the same interior conversation every ten pages. Like the "New World," Exodus is built on a towering foundation for a fantasy, but it is ultimately too airy to relate to its "hero."

Thumbs down.


Iris said...

I definitely disagree with Kevin on this one. I didn't find Mara whiny at all. This story had love, politics, adventure and a fantastic dystopian landscape. The author pulls no punches.. from the very first Mara is forced to see the harsh realities of her choices, realize that sacrifice is never easy, and that good intentions can create monstrous results. This book could lead to lots of interesting book discussions.


Pat said...

I love survival stories and I couldn't put this one down. I found Mara to be a strong character ready to lead and help as many people as she could escape the calamity that had befallen them. I'm voting YES.