Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: "Night of the Purple Moon (Toucan Trilogy, #1)" by Scott Cramer

Review of Night of the Purple Moon by Scott Cramer.

I have to admit... about ten pages in, I didn't think I'd like this book.

I'm not sure what it was that made me think that, however, at least not anymore. Because as I kept reading this book, its claws kept pulling me deeper and deeper in, until it became a book that I truly enjoyed. Whatever it was in the first few pages that had me thinking I'd not finish... long forgotten at this point.

Abby Leigh lives with her father, her brother Jordan, and her sister Lisette (nicknamed "Toucan" by a younger Abby). The four live on a small island community off the shores of Maine. Mom works on the mainland, a long enough commute away that she stays at their old mainland home during the week and rejoins the family each weekend.

That all changed when the comet came. The comet would pass close enough to the Earth that the planet would travel through its tail, and the space dust was expected to lend a purple haze to the environment and atmosphere. People celebrated its arrival with purple drinks, food, clothing... all celebrating a once in a lifetime event. Abby, Jordan, and their father stay up late to watch the comet's passing.

The next day, Abby and Jordan wake to learn that the world has changed forever. Bacteria in the space dust attacks adult hormones, eventually killing the host. The earth has, overnight, lost billions of adults and post-pubescent teens. Only younger children (Abby, Jordan, Toucan, and others in their neighborhood) and those adults quarantined for various reasons survived.

And survive they must. There are no adults left to feed them, to grow their food or make their clothes. Older children must care for the younger children. They are old enough to understand the robotic voice from the Centers for Disease Control, sent by quarantined scientists, that aging is more a death sentence than ever. Now, physical rites of passage into adulthood spell certain and swift death. And Abby, Jordan, and others know it's only a matter of time. Can they survive long enough for the scientists to find a cure? And, if it's found... how will they get it?

As someone who has written books, I know that characters drives stories; it's their experiences in facing and meeting the challenges that come their way that truly make a story. Magic, killer comets, aliens on other planets - these are ways to help those characters to experience something remarkable, and to change accordingly.

What we see in this story, through the eyes of the children living through it, is that the human spirit will not give up, and will not quit. Faced with the deaths of their parents and all other adults, the children do not quit; they use what they know, what they can learn, and what they can share to survive. Not only does the human spirit not quit, but it adapts, even in the youngest. Cramer's story illustrates this well; young children grieve and experience sadness, but they find it within themselves to continue to fight and to never, ever quit. They experience horrors - children having to dispose of the remains of their parents and loved ones, and eventually each other - that we'd like to shield all children from. Yet they never quit.

Cramer's book is an enjoyable read, and one that I'm glad I finished. I recommend it.

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