The Light Dweller ISBN: 9780692888582, an e-book novel by Miguel Lopez de Leon.
Plot: Ben Winter is a 12-year-old boy who has been repeatedly bullied at school and has parents that feel ‘he should learn to fight back’, a reaction that is not available to him for a number of reasons. Suddenly, his grandmother passes away and they move across the country to her huge, very old home. He still is left pretty much alone by his parents and explores only to discover the house had fascinating cellar rooms that, in turn, lead further downward into intriguing tunnels. While exploring, he suddenly loses his footing and falls into a fast-moving underground river that carries him at a sometimes startling pace deeper and deeper into the earth. Finally the river slows and he comes upon a lake guarded by a huge watery warrior. From this discovery the youngster is thrown into a remarkable series of adventures with visitations from his first arrival at the City/State of Gren to Cindel, where the inhabitants are mushroom-like characters who communicate by mental telepathy; to Depthis, inhabited by humanoid sea creatures; and Rist, the land populated by Lost Children who viciously control the individual’s mind. Successfully completing the journey, he arrives back only to discover Gren to be under attack by shadowy zombies and the story proceeds to an end with a perfect position from which to launch a sequel.
Discussion: Miguel Lopez Di Leon is well known for his stories about, and for, young readers and again has provided interestingly portrayed characters in most unusual settings and has moved them through a story that maintains a fast-moving pace. It fundamentally is a story of a lonely young boy caught in a never-ending battle between light and darkness is able to make and follow decisions to ‘do the right thing’ to triumph over adversity.
5* for targeted audience
Seventeen, Published by Creative Cover Art, is a fictional tale of two sisters having to survive in a suddenly vastly different world, in e-book by Suzanne Lowe.
A plane crash in Japan lets loose contaminants that gradually spread throughout the world and become known as the KV virus. It strangely appears to affect only adults, causing a terrible death. Upon the epidemic’s arrival in Australia, many flee the cities including the close friends of sixteen year old Lexi and her 12-year-old sister, Hadley in Perth. Their parents decide to stay in their home but also succumb and are removed by persons in contagious guard suits. No one comes to do anything about the two children and gradually they adjust until thieves invade. They decide to leave for a smaller town. Their parents’ automobile has been stolen, but their neighbors’ older car still works and has petrol sufficient to reach their destination. Since they also are dead, the two girls take the car and begin their journey. They meet another young boy along the way, take him along and just before sundown reach the small town of Jasper’s Bay. This town retains their electricity because it is a model community that had established a complete and well-functioning system of solar power. The town is inhabited only by children and is run by the eldest of them, Elisha and Ethan Mathews who were the children of the town’s Anglican priest. They are given permission to stay and matters begin to settle into place until Broc, a young bully type and his gang from outside start to upgrade attacks on the town’s children. Problems escalate further when a mutant version of the virus appears that first produces a noticeable rash on the arms and legs and is followed by increasingly uncontrollable rage and is reported as beginning to attack children when they reach seventeen. Elisha is the first to become infected and is forced from the community because of her resultant activity. Ethan, although her twin, seems immune. He is devastated however, and takes to drink. Further problems ensue to threaten the town’s already shaky survival structure when Kevin, one of the young siblings of Zac, the eldest son running the nearby only productive farm, deserts to join Broc and his gang creating devastating destruction to the town’s infrastructure. Eventually, the young town dwellers band together to fight the invaders and some order is reestablished with Lexi taking charge but as she turns seventeen, the question surfaces as to whether she will be immune or if she too will succumb.
Discussion: The author states “I wanted to write a story for young adults that featured two sisters having to survive in a world that was suddenly vastly different from one they had grown up in. One without adults or any rules. This was a scenario that my own two teenage daughters would often discuss and theorize about at the dinner table. I wanted to set the story in Australia, somewhere that is quite isolated and a unique setting for most dystopian stories.” The statement speaks for itself and describes exactly what was intended and what has been accomplished. As an aside, the activity of the bully Brock and his gang appear to be pictured at an appropriate level for the age group. Some further editing might have been helpful for any more mature readers, but generally the tale appears to follow the purported thought lines of her targeted audience.
5* Fascinating plot, setting and presentation for target audience.