Rating Scale: 4Q, 2P
Links to Author’s Website and Interviews
Links to Reviews
The world has fallen and only a few survived. Can time travel be the solution?
This is a bleak science-fiction book that takes place in three different time periods. The book is set around an apocalyptic event, with the book taking place before, during and after the event. The main character from after the event is a 15-year-old boy named Pete, who is one of only six children that are still alive on earth in the year 2035. All of the remaining people have been forced to live in a small, shell-shaped building. Through Pete, the reader learns that aliens have destroyed the earth and have placed the survivors there with the means to survive. However, the problem is that they are having problems reproducing. Most of the time, they miscarry. When children are born, they are usually severely deformed. Pete has some physical deformities but still manages to get around. One of the things that the aliens have provided is a time-travel machine for them to go back in time to steal items they might need. However, they are also stealing babies so that the human race can survive. Pete and the other surviving children are the only ones that can use the machine. Back before the event, the main character is a woman named Julie Kahn, a brilliant FBI consultant. She has found a pattern in the child abductions that have taken place and is attempting to trace when the next abduction will occur so they can capture the kidnapper. However, as the months go on, Julie begins to realize that the abductions are not what they seem.
Although this book isn’t something that I would re-read, there is no denying that it is extremely well-written and thought-provoking. The characters are fascinating, especially Pete and the other survivors. The survivors are all very well-drawn and Kress does a good job describing their bleak existence. You get a real sense of their sorrow and desperation. Pete, although very abrasive at times, is also very sympathetic. In 2013, Julie Kahn is not as interesting a character because Kress doesn’t delve as much into the character. It’s not until the end of that book that Julie gets more page time and begins to shine more as a character. It wasn’t until then that I felt any connection toward her. The premise of the novel is very interesting but proved to be both confusing and a little disappointing. I had wanted the cause of the apocalypse to be different than it turned out to be. However, I recognize that this is just my personal preference and that it is still an impressive work.
Significance of Book
This is an award-winning science-fiction title. The characters are fully fleshed out and believable. The time travel is well-done and the environmental issues raised are fascinating.
Pure by Julianna Baggott
Ark by Stephen Baxter
Dr. Futurity by Philip K. Dick
Awards and Lists
2012 Nebula Award Winner
2012 Locus Award Winner
2013 Hugo Nominee
2013 Sturgeon Award Nominee
- Discussion of the Gaia theory presented in the book
- Discussion of the “villains” of the book
- Discussion of the “during the fall” part of the book
Justification of Selection
What interested me about this story was that it merged both a post-apocalyptic narrative with aliens. The environmental issues also seemed interesting. I was more than curious to see how Kress would merge these different aspects.