Overview from the Barnes and Noble website
The signs are everywhere, Jory's stepfather, Caleb, says. Red leaves in the springtime. Pages torn from a library book. All the fish in the aquarium facing the same way. A cracked egg with twin yolks. Everywhere and anywhere. And because of them Jory's life is far from ordinary. He must follow a very specific set of rules: don't trust anyone outside the family, have your works at the ready just in case, and always, always watch out for the signs. The end is coming, and they must be prepared.
School is Jory's only escape from Caleb's tight grasp, and with the help of new friends Jory begins to explore a world beyond his family's farm. As Jory's friendships grow, Caleb notifies Jory's mother and siblings that the time has come for final preparations.
They begin an exhausting schedule digging a mysterious tunnel in anticipation of the disaster. But as the hold gets deeper, so does the family's doubt about whether Caleb's prophecy is true. When the stark reality of his stepfather's plans becomes clear, Jory must choose between living his own life or following Caleb, shutting his eyes to the bright world he's just begun to see.
272 pages in hardback (read via NetGalley)
Published by Disney-Hyperion in April 2015
Paperback due out in September 2016
Cover design by Whitney Manger, photograph by David Hughes
The description of this book intrigued me on NetGalley: a survivalist story is not exactly what you might first expect from Disney. I thought I’d give it a go – to broaden my reading range. I’m glad I did.
It’s simply written (appropriate for the suggested 8-12 age-group) but with touches of quiet poetry and simple beauty. I found the author’s use of character-led humour amongst the threat of violence and disaster was both touching and effective.
The few central characters are memorable and engaging – for me the mysterious Kit in particular. To a reader in the UK, this is perhaps rather unexpected subject matter for a children’s novel – but it is deftly handled without sensationalism. We truly care for Jory and all his family.
Without giving any more spoilers, there is a strong, credible and satisfying resolution to the tale. It has a realistic contemporary feel, but isn’t trendy or clichéd – it will stand reading in future years. We can always enjoy stories that examine loyalty and trust, friendship and family.
Recommended for reasonably independent readers who want a warm-hearted story centred on relationships but with an edge to it. One worth discussing.
K. M. Lockwood lives by the sea in Sussex - see the pics on Instagram. She fills jars with sea-glass, writes on a very old desk and reads way past her bedtime. Her tiny bed and breakfast is stuffed full of books - and even the breakfasts are named after writers. You'd be welcome to chat stories with @lockwoodwriter on Twitter