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Exodus by Julie Bertagna
Review by Gayle Surrette
Walker Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780802797452
Date: 01 April 2008 List Price $16.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The residents of Wing have been moving further and further inland, but the sea just keeps following them. Soon there will be no place to move to and the island will be gone. Mara knows this and believes it. Mara also has a secret, she's been playing with her cyberwizz and she thinks there are places of safety but they need to go now or they will all die when the seas rise again. Will the islanders agree to go? Will they find safety?

Mara is convinced that the information she uncovered in the cyberspace stacks about cities being built to take in the world's population and save them from the rising seas are true. The island is not going to last many more years and each move takes them further and further into areas that are harder and harder to farm. They need to make the effort to find the cities now or it will be too late. The problem is all they have are boats and no idea of where the city might be other than a vague direction. And no one knows what they will find when they get there. Will there be a city? Will it take them in? They may die in the attempt or die if they stay. The decision is hard to make.

Global warming is on everyone's mind these days. What will it do to the Earth? Will the oceans rise? How much? What effect will it have on weather, crops, land? Bertagna takes a catastrophic view of global warming and manages to keep the details on a personal and individual level. We move thorough the land and sea with Mara as she struggles to find a way for her friends, family, and neighbors to survive. She's just a teenager but she feels the need to take leadership when no one else steps forward. She's got a good head on her shoulders and she strives to be fair and just. She also doesn't shrink from taking responsibility for her actions. And like many of us, feels acute guilt when bad things happen to good people because they listened to her.

This is a compelling story. The characters are well fleshed out and the setting and possible ramifications are believable and inevitable based on the build-up of the initial premise. Even in catastrophe there can be hope, and where the end justifies the means, is it right? Where should priorities lie when not everyone can be saved? This books raises a number of issues that will probably stay with the reader long after the last page. Luckily, the story will continue in Zenith which is due out in April of 2009.

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