By: Jonathan Mary-Todd
Publisher: Darby Creek Publishing
Publication Date: August 2012
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012
Once upon a time they all lived in the Frontier Motel, “a place where people would stop and rest for a night or two before they got where they were going.” There was no rest any more for Martin, Hector, Malik, Beckley, and her sister Emma. They’d been on the road, so to speak, for several seasons. First the phones died and right on top of that, so did all the adults, including their parents. Yeah, dead, the lot of them and places like the Frontier were dangerous as anyone left would fight for a place to stay. It was better to keep on the move. Beckley would pore over “Gene Matterhorn’s Wilderness Survival Guidebook,” a guide that would keep them ... well, living.
They stuck to the woods, but that wasn’t always safe. “Back away,” Malik calmly told Hector, “Don’t look it in the eyes.” The snake didn’t care and it was already too late for Hector, who’d gotten bitten. Beckley looked into her guide and found out that it was a checkerback. That snake wouldn’t kill anyone, but could disfigure them. Those puncture marks weren’t going to be a picnic for Hector, but that snake would make a nice meal if properly prepared. It wasn’t a half bad meal, but soon Hector’s arm would look pretty nasty. Foraging for food wasn’t easy, but Martin looked ahead and actually had prepped a Radio Flyer wagon. It was kind of a “garden on wheels.”
There weren’t any people to be seen as they headed east, except for dead ones now and then. Beckley was always ready for any kind of circumstances and she even read about bear attacks in the guidebook. Be prepared could have been her motto, but soon things would take a change for the worse and preparation was useless. The sun was beginning to set and Malik urged them on when they saw “blood moving downstream past [them] in the water.” It was yet another dead body, but who knew when he died? It could have been minutes before. All of a sudden the group found themselves under attack by a disfigured band of boys dressed in black. Arrows began to fly though the air. They rushed in to steal their backpacks and provisions, but stole something even more valuable ... Emma. Would they be able to get her back? Would the survival guide give them the clues they needed to find her?
This is a fast-paced survivalist adventure that will thrill the young reader. Reluctant readers, the target audience for this tale, will be enticed by this short, action-packed read. The scenario for this series, “After the Dust Settled” is one in which the world as we know it has ended and only the young survive ... if they can. The tale moves along quickly as this band of teens stick together as they move east. Malik, their apparent leader, tells their story in a matter-of-fact way as survival has simply become their way of life. The flow of the narrative is smooth and I definitely was able to “recognize” different personality types in the group. For example, Hector is the impatient, sensitive type while Malik is a strong, quiet leader. If you have reluctant or newly independent readers who want short, but exciting novels, this is one series you may wish to add to your library or classroom shelves.
Quill says: The "After the Dust Settled" series is perfect for the young, reluctant reader who wants an exciting read, but not a lengthy one!