Exodus

PZ 7.B4627. PZ is Fiction and Juvenile Belles lettres, B4627 is the cutter for the author’s last name.  Exodus was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year, awarded an Eco Prize for Creativity (from Friends of the Earth Scotland and Eco Trust), named one of the Best Scottish Books of the 21st Century (The List), was the winner of Lancashire Children’s Book of the Year Award, and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal.

Series Title: Exodus Trilogy
Author: Julie Bertagna
ISBN-10: 0802798268 ISBN-13: 9780802798268
City and Publisher: New York: Walker & Company
Copyright Date: 2002
Author’s Website: http://www.juliebertagna.com

Reader’s Annotation: In the year 2099, Mara must convince her community that there is hope for a life safe from the rising ocean in the sky city of New Mungo.  But the city is only a whisper of lost legend, and there is no telling what they may find even if they can manage to get there safely.

Plot Summary: Mara is a young woman who resembles her grandmother not only in looks, but also in leadership potential.  As the rising ocean threatens to wipe out her island community, she hatches a plan to bring everyone to the legendary city of New Mungo.  But sanctuary remains a castle in the air.  Her sense of responsibility grows to encompass a larger community of refugees and urchins, and she must find a way and a place where they can all live safely.

Critical Evaluation: Exodus is a lyrical novel.  It unfolds slowly.  Mara’s world is one of half familiar mystery, and readers are left puzzling out landmarks that never quite come into focus.  Tragedy stalks every page.  Mara is a semi-engaging character.  She is more able to place events within a larger context than other characters, but her grief never quite rings true.  This is not a novel to be devoured, not a page turner.  But it is engaging none the less.  It addresses ethics and morality, but its conclusions are ultimately simplistic and under-satisfying.

Reading Level/Interest: 13 & up
Curriculum Ties:
Global Warming/Climate Change, society and ethics
Booktalking Ideas: Ask students if the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.  Ask some of the classic questions  (sacrifice one child to save 1000 people, etc) and get them to discuss these issues.  Bring in the context of climate change and describe this book as addressing those issues within this context.

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopias

Challenge Issues: Exodus deals with a morality in which individuals must be sacrificed for the good of the society.  Encourage parents to read this book along with their children, and to discuss these sticky issues.

About the Author: Julie Bertagna is a Scottish writer, and often sets her characters there as well.  She has a degree in English literature and has worked as a teacher, an editor, and a freelance journalist.  Exodus has a sequel, Zenith, which was published in 2007.  The third book in the trilogy, Aurora, is due out in 2011.  More at : http://www.davidhigham.co.uk/clients/Bertagna.htm

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