Saturday, November 29, 2008

Escape the Mask by David Ward

Escape the Mask by David Ward is the first book in The Grassland Trilogy. The story opens in a cave, a series of holding cells for new arrivals, told from Coriko's perspective. Coriko is suffering a punishment - a night of fear in the cave that is flooded by water to cull the weak. Coriko hisses instructions on how to survive the surging ocean to two new captives. The cells are fuller than normal, and Coriko notices others changes among their captors' behavior.

Ward combines slavery techniques of intimidation, divison, punishment for not reaching quota, and isolation to create a sensory deprivation cut off from the rest of the world for the young captives. The children depend and trust few others than their mates. The book conveys desperation, the best and worst of human nature, and longings for belonging.

For those who want the tension of good/bad, other realms, war and humanity, captive and escape, it could be a readers advisory selection. It has some gruesome images, but not uber grotesque in detail, so seems ok for younger teens who want aspects of war and battle. I don't think the title stands on its own, doesn't have enough depth, and doesn't warrant the TU award. NAY

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