Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

After the End

After the End

Amy Plum
Fiction
For ages 13 and up
HarperCollins, 2014 

Thirty years ago humans committed the ultimate folly when they allowed conflicts between nations to escalate. World War III broke out. Thankfully Juneau’s parents and a few others left their homes in cities and towns and built new lives for themselves in the Alaskan wilderness. Working together as a clan they have lived without electricity, gasoline powered vehicles, or any of the other luxuries that most people take for granted. They live off the land, use huskies to move from place to place, and they have an extraordinary connection with the natural world. They believe that Earth is a living thing that they can connect with, that they can tap into an energy called the Yara which allows them to do things that seem magical in nature.

   One day Juneau is out hunting and when she gets back to village she finds that her people have been kidnapped, taken away in flying machines, and all the huskies except for her own have been killed. Juneau ties to get help from the clan sage, Whit, who is on a retreat, but when she gets to his cave he is gone. Using the Yara, Juneau is able to see what Whit is seeing. She learns that he too is a captive and that he is near the ocean, which is three day’s journey from where she is. Since she cannot connect with her father, Juneau decides that she must follow Whit and hopefully he will be able to explain what is going on.

   When Juneau gets to the ocean she sees a city, a thriving city. She cannot understand how this can be. Did this settlement somehow survive World War III? How is it that people are able to live normal lives after such a cataclysmic event? She is appalled when she finds out that there was no World War III. Her parents and the other elders in the tribe have been lying to her and the other children who were born into the clan. Everything she has believed about the world outside has been a lie. Though Juneau is shocked by this discovery, and feels betrayed, she does not give up on her mission. She must still try to find and rescue the people in her clan.

   In Seattle, Juneau uses the Yara, with a street person serving as her oracle, to find out what she must do next. She is told that she needs to find someone whose name will take her far. She has no idea what this means so she starts asking everyone she meets what their name is, which is how she meets Miles, the boy the oracle spoke of.

   What Juneau does not know is that Miles has his own agenda. His father is a powerful and ruthless business man who is looking for a girl with a strange pupil in one eye. He believes this girl will be able to tell him about a miracle drug that he is determined to possess. Trying to get in his father’s good graces, Miles has traveled to Seattle to find this girl, who is being hunted by his father’s men. By sheer chance he finds her, a petite girl with black hair and a starbust pupil in one eye. Her name is Juneau and she is unlike any person he has ever met.

   At first all Miles wants to do is to take Juneau to his father, but he knows that he cannot force her, so he goes along with her plan to find her people. Miles travels west with Juneau when she announces that that is where she has to go. He believes that she was brainwashed by her family and does not accept that she has powers, abilities that are, in essence, magical. Miles, like almost everyone in America, does not know about the Yara and does not know how powerful it is. He has no idea what Juneau is capable of.

   In this memorable book a thrilling adventure takes readers on a roller coaster ride with two young people who have no idea what is going to happen next. The narrative is threaded through with a touch of romance, and an important message about humanity’s place on this planet.

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