Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: The Children of the Lost (Whitley)

AUTHOR: David Whitley
SERIES: The Agora Trilogy, book 2
PAGES: 357
PUBLISHER: Roaring Brook Press
PUBLICATION DATE: January 18, 2011
SOURCE: Region XI Book Review Committee
GENRE: Fantasy/ dystopia
OVERALL RATING: Highly recommended
RECOMMENDED FOR: MS, HS (guys and gals)

SUMMARY: Picking up right where The Midnight Charter leaves off, Children of the Lost opens with newly-exiled teens Lily and Mark trying to find food and warmth just outside the walls of their home city of Agora. Mark, who blames Lily for their exile, argues with Lily and runs off, leaving her alone in the dark and dangerous forest. It is only after Lily nearly dies that Mark comes back to her and learns to move past his anger. Mark and an unconscious and injured Lily are taken to small village deep in the forest, where Lily is healed. The villagers accept Lily and Mark and allow them to stay with the village. To Lily, life in the village seems idyllic; the villagers work cooperatively and share everything. Mark, however, quickly senses something is wrong with this village and begs Lily to consider leaving with him. Lily refuses to leave and as the months pass, Mark and Lily get to know the villagers and learn more about their former city of Agora. But the longer they stay, the more they begin to realize that leaving the village may prove far more difficult than they imagined.

WHAT I LIKED: This book was AMAZING! I haven't been this excited about a book since I first read the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness last year. In fact, the relationship between Mark and Lily in this book reminds me of Todd and Viola in Chaos Walking. I was completely sucked in right from the first page. Mark and Lily are believable heroes that readers will care about and root for. I love the hint of romance, which is likely to develop in the third book. The world-building is slow, purposeful, and leaves enough untold to add suspense and tension. The Children of the Lost will keep readers riveted, right up until the last page.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: For full appreciation, read these books in order. Having not read the previous book, I expected to be lost and possibly to have to put it down to wait for The Midnight Charter to arrive in my library. While I understand Mark and Lily's story quite well, I still do not thoroughly understand the politics of Agora. I strongly suggest reading The Midnight Charter before reading this one because, rather than rehashing events of the previous book, Whitley focuses wholly on this story's action.


CONTENT:
  • LANGUAGE: none
  • SEXUALITY: very mild--Some children are married as young as age 12, but no sexuality is described.
  • VIOLENCE: mild-moderate--It is a fantasy/dystopia after all. Some mob violence. A woman is torn apart (only discovered after she is buried); Lily is attacked by a wolf.
  • DRUGS/ ALCOHOL: mild--some allusions to "emotion drugs" sold and used in Agora
 
OTHERS IN SERIES: The Midnight Charter (book 1); The Canticle of Whispers (book 3, expected publication January 2012)

READALIKES: The Demon King series (Williams); Chaos Walking Trilogy (Ness)

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I have talked up this book a LOT to my students. As a result our two copies are constantly checked out and on-hold. The Midnight Charter, The Children of the Lost, and The Canticle of Whispers are all going to be on our school's Lone Star Plus reading list for the 2011-2012 school year.