Thursday, August 9, 2012

Teen/YA Review: Sharp North

My son read Sharp North by Patrick Cave back when it was first released in the U.S., in 2009, and he has been telling me to read it ever since!  I finally found the time to tackle it, thanks to my Big Book Summer Challenge, and discovered my son was right: this is a fast-paced, exciting dystopian adventure with a unique plot that pulled me in and kept me reading.

Teenaged Mira has lived a content, simple life in the snowy mountains of Scotland in an isolated village with her adoptive parents.  Then, one day, a strange woman is killed in front of her in the woods, and Mira’s peaceful, happy life is shattered.  The woman leaves behind a crumpled piece of paper that contains a list of names, including her own. 

Suddenly, Mira is questioning everything she has ever been told or believed about her life.  Who is she, really?  Who was the mysterious woman and why was she killed?  Mira feels she must find answers and can no longer trust anyone, so she sets off on her own to follow the clues left by the dead woman, but she has no idea what dangers hide in the wider world beyond her little town and her protected upbringing. 

This unique novel is set in a distant, dismal future UK where relentless flood waters have changed not only the geography of the country but its internal workings as well.  Britain is now ruled by the Great Families, leaving a poor underclass who are barely surviving.  With such limited resources, reproduction has been severely limited, but there are rumors that the Great Families have secret, illegal clones of themselves – spares – just in case they are needed.

Cave weaves a complex and intricate story of a time and place very different from our familiar world.  Mira’s journey takes her on a long and dangerous series of adventures, as she follows her heart and tries to do what she feels is right, drawn by the need to find out the truth about her own life. I enjoyed this fast-paced and exciting novel very much.

518 pages, Atheneum


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