Saturday, February 08, 2014

Forager by Peter R. Stone Is A Brilliant New Australian Post-Apocalyptic Tale for YA

The earth and society has been decimated by World War Three. The surviving members of the human race have clustered together in settlements on the Australian continent in the former state of Victoria.

Eighteen-year-old Ethan Jones has grown up in one of these city-settlements, Newhome, on the outskirts of what is left of Melbourne. He leads a successful team of 5 friends that forage for metals and other useful items amongst its ruins.

Ethan, however, has a secret. Ethan is a mutant with enhanced hearing and echolocation abilities that would earn him a death sentence if the powers-that-be found out.

The success of this team (far outstripping that of the other forager teams) attracts the attention of the “Custodians”: the militaristic overseers of the city and the guardians of the status quo. Under the pretext of protecting Ethan’s team from the horrific marauders known as the “Skels” that haunt the Melbourne ruins, a team of Custodians accompany them out of the city for a day of foraging.

While working, the two teams must come to rescue of a trading party from the distant city-settlement of Hamamachi that has been attacked by the Skels. The party’s only survivors are Counsillor Okada and his young female translator, Nanako. For Ethan, life as he knows it is fixing to change forever … again.

The author has given us a fully developed, post-apocalyptic world and populated it with great characters. The plot is imaginative and I was absorbed with the story immediately. The society of Newhome, highly structured with rigid and unforgiving laws and traditions, sets the stage for the variety of characters and their hopeless lives (although the ambitious can aspire to entry into the privileged and mysterious part of the city known as “North Gate.”)

The mix of actually existing items like the Custodians’ Bushmaster vehicles and Austeyr assault rifles add a touch of our present to Ethan’s reality, and I found that fun. I also liked that the characters used actual Melbourne street and place names on the foraging trips. I imagine if the reader actually lived in Melbourne that would be pretty cool.

The action was tense, tight, and held a number of twists that I never saw coming. As I read, I did not want to put the book down, respect the clock, and get on with what needed doing (sleep, work, etc.) in my day-to-day. I just needed to read “one more chapter.” I truly enjoyed this book and will have to build up my stamina for when the Forager sequel – Infiltrator – comes out later in 2014.

Bravo to the author for a great start to his trilogy.

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