Set in a future post-apocalyptic world, 8 families live in quiet solitude on a foggy island, safe from whatever wrecked humanity. The kids are all 12 years old or close to it. While they have each been long curious about the mainland, they also knew there was no way to go exploring. Yet now things are happening to them and secrets long kept are becoming clear. The kids are changing but they don’t know why, or what they will become, or how their parents will react.
These 8 kids, Hal, Robbie, Abigail, Darcy, Dewey, Emily, Fenton, and Lauren, have grown up on this island with their parents, some hogs, cows, a dog, & a cat. There’s no electricity, no indoor plumbing, and no majestic views. The island is perpetually foggy. The kids have never seen a clear night with twinkling stars. The author does a pretty good job setting the stage and giving the reader the feel of the place. The foggy island has shaped these kids as much as their schooling or their parents’ house rules. I really liked the foggy atmosphere because it gave the whole book a mysterious quality.
The families have worked out a communal way to live on the island. One woman is the school teacher, another one the doctor, and yet another bakes weekly bread for all the households. Most of the men work the communal farm. I was surprised that the kids never had farm chores. In fact, they seem to have very few responsibilities other than homework and keeping their rooms clean. I would have liked to see the kids a little more involved in the day to day chores as such a little community probably couldn’t let the kids off to play so often. But that is a tiny quibble compared to how much enjoyment I got out of this book.
So these kids are in for an adventure and things start off a bit slowly. We learn about them, the island, and a few hints as to why they are on the island. Then things pick up with Abigail, who is the first to change and she shares this info with a chosen few. Each kid has a different reaction to these changes and I really liked this aspect. After all, they are all different people.
Meanwhile, there are these sad little remembrances of a family that lost their son many years ago and the couple left the island. Well, Hal & Robbie went adventuring on the island and they ran into something completely unexpected. It was Thomas, the long lost boy, but he’s a manticore. I have no qualms telling you this since he is on the cover art. Thomas is not a well-adjusted kid and doesn’t play well with others, so Hal & Robbie have to flee. To me, Thomas is a rather interesting side character and we learn more about him later in the book. He changed years earlier than the other kids and has been managing on his own for years in the depths of the woods.
Once the adults become aware that at least one of the kids is changing, a specialist, Miss Simone, is called in. This is the first person from off the island the kids have met. They obviously have lots of questions. Yet Simone is evasive and prying at the same time. The kids don’t trust her. They take it upon themselves to do some actions that inadvertently endanger some of the islands inhabitants.
The story lagged in places for me. I felt certain arguments were repeated and repeated. Also, I felt the kids were rather slow to get to the boiling point. After all, their parents kept the biggest secret of their young lives from them, plus all the secrecy about the world off the island. Then this stranger, Miss Simone, comes and wants them to divulge all their secrets and she wants to irrevocably change their lives, all without telling them anything. So I kept waiting for one of the kids to explode in anger, or at least, in indignation. It was really slow in coming and then was a pretty mild rebuke. That aspect watered down the kids’ characters for me.
The last quarter of the book had the most action and was the most well written. Things are moving along and the kids’ personalities are well-fleshed out. Also, we see more of the adults who were largely these shadowy characters in the background up to this point. Plus Miss Simone gets some depth to her mysterious character. It was a pretty good read and I want to know what happens next to these kids.
I received this book free of charge from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: I have listened to several books narrated by Fred Wolinsky and this may be the best performance yet. Each kid was distinct and sounded like a kid. He also had really good female voices, which I appreciated as I haven’t always liked his female voices. As always, he is great at imbuing the characters with emotions and by the end of the book, there were plenty of emotions to be had!