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Julie Bertagna – Exodus

April 29, 2009

48. Exodus by Julie Bertagna (2002)
Exodus Trilogy, Book 1

Length: 352 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Science-Fiction

Started: 23 April 2009
Finished: 24 April 2009

How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 03 April 2009
Verdict? Keeper.

Exodus was recently released in paperback; its sequel, Zenith, is being released on 17 May 2009. Many thanks to Bloomsbury USA for sending me a copy to review!

It’s like Waterworld
meets Uglies… but now with much
less Kevin Costner!

Summary: In 2100, the Earth’s ice caps have melted, the oceans have risen, and month-long fierce storms are the norm. The inhabitants of the tiny village island of Wing have moved further and further uphill as the seas rise, but there’s no longer anywhere else to go. Fifteen-year Mara believes she has evidence of great sky cities built somewhere in the south, and even though the villagers are skeptical, they have no other choice – they head for the one they believe to be closest. However, once they get there, they find that the high-tech city has equally high security, and it isn’t accepting new refugees. Now, it seems as though it will be up to Mara to find a way to get inside the city, and somehow save her people… and maybe the whole of humanity.

Review: I can’t quite decide if this book is horrifically frightening, or upliftingly hopeful. Both, probably. Bertagna’s vision of the future is terrifyingly plausible – indeed, she points out, it’s already started, and we are standing on the precipice of that future. At the same time, Bertagna doesn’t slip into hopelessness, or start lecturing us about how badly we’re screwing up the planet – she just presents her vision of the future as she sees it, and I wound up spending a lot of the book asking myself “Is this inevitable? What will we do if this happens? What can we do to keep this from happening?” I think this book should be required reading in every freshman lit class in the world for exactly that reason – because it makes you think, and turns global warming from something that only Al Gore worries about into something much more immediate and personal.

I don’t mean to give the impression that this is exclusively a “message” book – far from it. The story itself is very absorbing, and well-told, with sympathetic characters, lots of interesting twists and turns, and plenty of action. Like Scott Westerfeld‘s Uglies trilogy, on the surface level it reads as an exciting action story, with all of the social commentary tucked down in the cracks – not so much that you have to go hunting for it, but just enough that it’s enjoyable on a variety of levels. I wasn’t blown out of the water (heh, sorry) by the writing – I tend not to like books written in the present tense without a clear reason for it, and while I can usually tune it out, there were times when it was intrusively noticeable – but for the most part, it was innocuous. Anyways, this isn’t a book you should read for the writing, it’s a book you should read for the story – and for the message. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: If you liked Uglies, you’ll find this one in much the same vein. For everyone else, I’d still recommend giving this one a shot: it’s a highly entertaining and compulsively readable story on an interesting – and important – topic.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Julie Bertagna’s website

Other Reviews: Wands and Worlds, Shermeree’s Musings, Mother Reader
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Earth spins. And Wing, the high island, is hurled into the sunless shadow of night.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2009 2:50 pm

    I don’t read much sci-fi, but that one sounds good.

  2. April 29, 2009 4:54 pm

    you always write such well written reviews. this sounds like a good read.

  3. April 29, 2009 8:16 pm

    bermudaonion – If it helps, it’s only really “tech-y” sci-fi for the last third or so… the early parts, technology is actually really primitive, on account of the waters rising and everywhere being cut off from everwhere else.

    bookworm – It really was! I don’t think it’s as well-known (at least not in the U.S.) as it should be, so if you get a chance to read it, it’s definitely worth your while.

  4. April 30, 2009 11:47 am

    I did like (loved, actually) the Uglies series and my library has this, so it is on the list!

  5. April 30, 2009 3:25 pm

    DoB – Very cool! I’ll be interested to see what you think of it… and to double-check that the Uglies similarities aren’t all in my head! :)

  6. April 30, 2009 4:49 pm

    Oh neat! I haven’t seen Waterworld but I do know what it’s about and I loved Uglies so I may pick this one up even if the idea does scare me a little.

  7. May 2, 2009 9:27 pm

    This sounds kind of cool! I have never heard of it before!

  8. May 3, 2009 8:57 am

    Ladytink – Yeah, it is pretty scary… but hopefully it’s the good, useful kind of scary.

    Kailana – I think it’s more widely known in the UK than it is on this side of the pond. (The author’s Scottish, and it’s set in what used to be Scotland.)

  9. Sophia permalink
    November 3, 2009 10:37 pm

    I loved this book. It’s now my faveorite and I am now going on to read zentith. does anyone know what the third book is???

  10. Alicia permalink
    February 22, 2011 12:52 pm

    Exodus is set in the year 2099, when the Earth has all but drowned and only a few islands remain habitable. Mara is confined to her fast-disappearing island home of Wing, which is ravaged by fierce storms and an ever-dwindling supply of food, and where every night she escapes into a virtual world known as the Weave. One night, she discovers ‘proof’ of the mythical Sky Cities – entire cities that rose into the sky and kept their inhabitants safe from the flooded world below – and sets about convincing everyone of their existence, keeping secret the fact that she only discovered their existence from a talking fox, who may or may not be an enemy… She convinces the community to set sail on a terrifyingly dangerous journey to find these Sky Cities; but what will they find there?

    I really wasn’t sure about this book at first – the blurb made it sound a teensy bit corny and when I started reading it, there wasn’t much of a story (in fact, the story doesn’t really kick off until about 75 pages to the end) and the present tense in which it is written takes a bit of getting used to – but I was intrigued by this incredibly detailed future that Bertagna had created and was interested to know what would happen when the story did kick off; and boy, am I glad I did! Not to say that there was no story before the ‘pick up the pace’ point – the book was beautifully written throughout and those pages were quite vital to the plot of the story, as well as essential in making connections with the characters in the book.

    The characters are all really well developed and you genuinely care about them when horrible things happen to them. You also really feel for them and their situation – after all, the book in set just 90 years away, in a world that struggles to survive because of extreme flooding; a world that is frighteningly likely to happen and it could be our great-grandchildren that live in the nightmare-world, making it an eye-opening, powerful read.

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