I have a confession to make: I never outgrew young adult novels. There are few things I would enjoy more than checking out a stack from our school library and spending a day lost in the world of teenage protagonists. Don’t hate; young-adult novels have come a long way from the pulp that was Sweet Valley High. A large percentage of them are well-written, engaging, and feature likable characters and fascinating plots. Best of all, you can knock one out in a few hours of reading.
Even better, YA novels are starting to address environmental issues. Dystopian societies are a staple for YA books: Lois Lowry’s Giver trilogy, Jeanne Duprau’s Books of Ember, and Scott Westerfields Uglies books all tackle the idea of the destruction of society at least partially due to humanity’s interaction with the environment. Now, one of my favorite YA authors, David Klaas, tackles the possibility of dystopia in the first book of his Caretaker Trilogy, Firestorm.
Jack Danielson is a typical high schooler when his life is thrown into chaos. In the blink of an eye, his life as he knows it is gone and he is suddenly on the run from unknown pursuers while simultaneously trying to figure out what is going on around him. He’s aided by a telepathic dog named Gisco and a highly-trained ninja-girl named Eko who eventually inform him that he is not, in fact, of this earth, but a super-powered prince from the future, sent back to save the oceans of the world from destruction.
Fast-paced and funny, the book will keep you flipping pages as Jack races to escape those persuing him. Klaas has a knack for creating realistic characters–one of his previous works, You Don’t Know Me, features an unforgettable heart-wrenching protagonist–and Jack Danielson is no exception. His stream of thought, largely comprised of fragmented sentences, can get tedious, but I assure you, as I read several papers written by high schoolers every day, is pretty realistic. The environmental theme is well-addressed, as well–so well that the book is endorsed by Greenpeace. Note to parents–there is some strong sexual content, so the book is probably best suited for high school-aged students or mature middle-schoolers. The second book of the trilogy, Whirlwind, is set for a March 2008 release, and Firestorm has been optioned by Warner Bros. for film.
[This post was written by Kelli Best-Oliver]