Author: Roger Davenport
Publisher: Sky Pony Press, 2013
Genre: YA Dystopian
*I received a copy of this book free from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
So this is the cover I saw when I first signed up for Edelweiss, way back when, and it was a Read Now title…I figured, just like Netgalley, I should start with something that is already available (and maybe that’s why I haven’t gotten approved for much on there…so I am reading my Edelweiss books to get them reviewed). The cover was pretty (as you know, I’m a coverwhore) and the blurb was interesting.
This is the cover I received when I actually downloaded the book was WAY different. I should’ve known then:
I was not impressed. And I know, I love everything. It’s taken me days just to write this. It’s been difficult and I have anxiety just writing this review now.
Let me tell you about Wanderer…
We have two POVs…one is from Kean, a Wanderer, and the other is from Essa, a pyramid dweller in the city of Arcone. Essa’s life is tightly-controlled: she picks a job as an apprentice to her father, the pyramid’s maintenance man, who is in charge of making sure the structure is patched to perfection over the years. Art and beauty are totally objective, and if it’s not something that glorifies Arcone in some way, it gets recycled. If you question the history of the pyramid, you are sent to “contemplation,” a series of cells. It’s bleak, but that’s our typical dystopian world, right?
Then there’s Kean: a Wanderer with six fingers who was kicked out of Arcone long ago, as only perfect specimens get to live in the pyramid. All Wanderers were, at some point, kicked out of Arcone. He is abnormally pale, and he can see extremely far. He helps his group of Wanderers stay clear of carnivorous beasts and the Cruisers, a gang of people that use the precious water as fuel for their vehicles.
Oh, I forgot to mention, water is scarce. Like, super hard to find. Some sort of cataclysmic apocalyptic event caused desert landscapes everywhere, and the Wanderers like at The Lakes, a place ironically named because all the water is underground.
Yeah, something like that.
The POV was the biggest problem for me. Davenport writes as third-person omniscient, so we jump into different character’s minds without warning. This gave me a major sense of disconnect from our two main protagonists.
Here’s an example of a sudden POV shift, and we are in Kean’s head, then Essa’s all of a sudden:
It confused Kean. He had felt protective about Essa, and now she had the respect of a kind he had always wished for himself. For there was no doubt she was a Waterboy. She had the gift. Hawkerman had set her a series of tests, letting her guide the team when water began to run short, and she led them to it every time, often across great distances. They were all empowered by the talent she had; with water no longer a problem, they were truly a great team, invulnerable.
She asked herself why and how, and she found no answers. It was an affinity she had with an essential element, and that was all you could say about it.
Okayyyy…that’s weird, right?
You know at some point Kean and Essa are going to meet up, and they do. We think there’ll be romance. There is, to an extent. Here we go:
That was all it took—someone else to make the first move. He began telling her about the skis, and how after his headlong dash in the attack wagon, he had seen a way of making a fast start on a trek over the Big White. Then of course he had to tell her of the others who had tried to get out of the valley over the many years, and how no one knew for sure if anyone had been successful—except maybe that man who’d ridden the bizarre animal . . . and . . . and there was no way he could avoid speaking of the essential condition for attempting such a journey: you had to have a Waterboy.
The rest of the team had gone back to the trailer. They were alone out here.
“You thought—what? I’d come with you?”
“I thought . . . I thought I could ask you.”
“And are you asking me?”
“Yes. I am.”
“But you haven’t.”
“I did—just now.”
“I could die, most like, if I do what you want me to—and you can’t even say, ‘Will you please come with me across the Big White?’”
“Certainly ‘please.’ You’d have to say please.”
It was absurd. He couldn’t do it.
She said, “I’m cold out here. Just say it.”
Well, put that way . . . They couldn’t stay out here forever, and she did look like she was getting very cold.
“Yes . . . um . . . Essa. Would you—please—come with me and go across the Big White? If we can, that is.”
“Yes,” she said.
So let’s get on with this, then…
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
Yes, it is, and I could see some people possibly liking this story. I would recommend for middle grade. It’s honestly not a bad story, but it didn’t have the elements in it that I enjoy. I’d say it could be a good read for younger readers who like adventure stories.
It was hailed as “The next in a line of post apocalyptic coming-of-age stories that began with Lois Lowry’s The Giver and moved on through The Hunger Games series.”
Umm, no. Just no. Maybe a nice story for a reader interested in desert tales with fighting and survival. Just not for me.
I would say 11-14. It’s not difficult. It’s too indie to be listed on Lexile.com. It looks like Davenport’s other books have been aimed more towards a younger audience to begin with. I’d keep it with a younger audience and wish I knew some younger readers to see how they feel about this one. I know my niece is too advanced for this: she’s reading some regular YA like Peregrine’s and H20. So she wouldn’t like this. I think young boys would like this, like Paulsen books (i.e. Hatchet)
You guys are going to be shocked, as I am giving out my first ★★☆☆☆ rating I think ever. Now, I used to feel that this rating would be for books that had tons of errors in it (back then I was reading a LOT of self-published books that did not have good editing jobs), so I will have to change my rating meanings now that I’ve encountered a two star book. It just never came up before!
This book was structurally sound, and Davenport writes well. It’s just the plot, the lackluster characters, and the pitiful attempt at romance. I think Kean and Essa might have held hands. That’s it. For me, I am a fan of romance in my books. The constant shift between being in Kean’s head to being in Essa’s to being in both was just jarring.
So my goal is to redo my ratings before I rate another book. So please disregard what my current two star rating says and I’ll say two stars means, “The book was readable, but just barely. Plot was lacking, characters flat, would not recommend.”
So, that’s my rating. Are you shocked now?
Happy Reading, y’all. Hopefully my next read, Fear The Drowning Deep, stays as interesting as it has been…😊🤞