Thursday, April 28, 2016
Dystopian Pick: The Big Dark
by Rodman Philbrick
Blue Sky Press
Set in a small town in New Hampshire, The Big Dark tells the story of an electromagnetic pulse so strong that it knocked out all power, including batteries. How will humans react when suddenly faced with a world that seems so different? A world without heat? A world without wi-fi?
Facing the remaining months of winter, the town must cut enough wood to keep the fires going. Conspiracy theorist and local loudmouth U.S. government hating compound owner Webster Bragg has his own ideas how to handle the outage. He feels like survival of the fittest. Why waste good food and good fire wood for old or sick people? He plans to take care of his compound and hoard weapons and goods. He's sure the government caused the black out and he says he knows for a fact that there is no more government left.
School janitor and part time volunteer police officer Reggie Kingman takes his duties seriously. He is able to calm the crowds and helps to silence Bragg. When their only grocery store burns down, the townspeople are distraught. All this hardship and now no groceries?
A medical emergency forces Charlie Cobb to risk his own life by heading to a nearby town to find medical supplies.
Philbrick makes dystopian fiction approachable for middle grades in The Big Dark. Similar to Bick's Ashes and Stephen King's The Dome, the townspeople drive the plot. There is a good versus evil fight and issues are raised for book clubs to debate.
The Big Dark is likely to earn Philbrick many state recognition lists and possibly another coveted Newbery Honor. Clever cover design helps market this title.
A quick read (178 pages) for reluctant readers. This book is available on Scholastic Book Fairs and at Scholastic warehouses. Recommended grade 4-up.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.