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Author: Philbrick, W. R.
When something knocks out everything electrical at midnight on New Year's Eve, the world is plunged into chaos, including the town of Harmony, New Hampshire, where Webster Bragg, a vicious survivalist, sees an opportunity to dominate his fellow citizens--but as the town struggles to maintain order and civilization, young Charlie Cobb sets out on a dangerous journey through the snow to find medicine for his diabetic mother.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.10
Points: 6.0 Quiz: 171751
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.80
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 67441
Kirkus Reviews (10/01/15)
School Library Journal (-) (11/01/15)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/01/16)
The Hornbook (00/01/16)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 11/01/2015 Gr 5–7—It's New Year's Eve, and the residents of Harmony, NH, brave bitter cold to watch a spectacular display of the northern lights. Suddenly, blinding light flashes across the sky, and anything electric, from flashlight batteries to cell phones to home generators, dies. At first, residents band together. But as days pass, intimidation and eventually the use of deadly force by Webster Bragg, an antigovernment white supremacist, causes fear and uncertainty. When Bragg torches the local pharmacy, middle schooler Charlie Cobb must brave life-threatening elements—both natural and human—to track down diabetes medication for his mother before she runs out. What could be a compelling tale about modern-day disaster, however, quickly devolves into something flat and forced. One-dimensional characters lack substance and sufficient development. Stilted language is distracting and archaic—Charlie's mother, a teacher, refers to math as "arithmetic," and Charlie describes a poor family as "living off the state." Perhaps most concerning are Bragg and his adult sons, who are frighteningly realistic in both dialogue and ideals. Though they are terrifying in their likeness to real-life racists and extremists, Philbrick misses the opportunity to provide more nuance to these and the other characters, leaving middle grade readers a superficial understanding of why the Braggs' hateful ideas are so harmful and why, in times of crisis, even "good" people allow hate to rule the day. VERDICT Though the themes of racism, hate, and the danger of fear are desperately needed in conversations with the intended age group, this novel only scratches the surface.—Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser, La Crosse Public Library, WI - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 11/15/2015 The sky brightened with a brief but intense flare of light, and immediately everything in the world changed. All electrical charges went dead, and the rhythms of Charlie’s life in his hometown of Harmony, New Hampshire, are immediately replaced by a terrifying new normal. Mr. Kingman, the school janitor and town’s sole volunteer police officer, is forced to confront one of the town’s fringe residents, Mr. Bragg, an antigovernment extremist whose self-interest policies lead to growing violence. When Charlie discovers that his diabetic mother has just 19 days of medicine remaining, he leaves the relative safety of Harmony to walk 50 miles to the hospital in Concord. Philbrick is in his element with this kid-oriented view of global catastrophe. Charlie’s world is brimming with danger, yet he single-mindedly accepts his mission to save his mother, since, for him, the threat of wild animals is overshadowed by the menace of frightened human beings. With a fast pace, pulse-pounding premise, and approachable first-person narration, this would be a great pick for reluctant readers. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.