Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Melissa de la Cruz
Illustrator:  Michael Johnston 
Fiction  Series
For ages 13 and up
Penguin, 2013   ISBN: 978-0399257544

Centuries ago humans lost their collective minds and wrecked their home, planet Earth. They waged wars, ruined the environment, and now the planet is gripped in the cold talons of an ice age. The Remaining States of America (RSA) is ruled by an oppressive, cruel and corrupt government. Citizens have to abide by laws that determine, among other things, where they go, who they marry, and how many children they have.

   Nat recently came to New Vegas, and she now has a job working in one of the casinos as a blackjack dealer. She works hard and keeps her head down, trying not to attract any attention. Nat carries a mark on her body, an image of a flame, that she was born with. The RSA leadership has decided that marked people, small people, and other beings who have strange colored eyes and hair, are a danger to society. Such people are rounded up and imprisoned. Nat was captured and for a time was held prisoner and tortured. By sheer luck, and thanks to one of the abilities she has, Nat managed to escape. A need drew her to New Vegas and to the Loss casino. That same need led her to an old man called Joe who had a blue stone with a hole through it hanging from a cord around his neck.

   Nat asks Jo if she can have the stone, and he gives it to her freely. As far as he is concerned the stone is just a stone, but when Nat looks through the hole in the middle of the stone she sees a map, and a place where the water is blue. This place, the Blue, is said to be a world where the sky and water are blue and where the sun shines. Most people think the Blue is a myth, but Nat is determined to try to find it. The map that she sees through the hole in the stone will lead her to the portal to this world

   The only way Nat can get to the Blue, according to the map, is to hire a runner to take her across the country and then across the ocean. She has heard that Ryan Wesson is the best runner out there and she secures enough credits to pay for his services.

   Ryan Wesson, or Wes as he is called, is an ex-soldier who has a team of mercenaries. Together they barely make enough to live on, and they cannot really afford to turn down Nat’s offer. The plan is that they will dump Nat as soon as they get out of New Vegas, but for some reason that Wes cannot quite understand, he decides that he is going to take her where she wants to go.

   They travel across the snowy, icy, trash covered land to the coast, dodging numerous dangers. In K-Town Nat uses her skills to win back a ship that Wes lost to a dangerous gambler and slaver called the Slob. As soon as they get the ship back, Wes and his team get it ready to sail out across the dead and toxic Pacific Ocean towards New Crete. They dodge trashbergs and other dangers, and as the days go by Nat gets to know Wes and his crew better. Then one day they find out that she is marked, and the easy companionship they shared vanishes. Some of the crew members want to throw Nat overboard, but Wes defends her. He is going to get her to the Blue whatever it takes.

   All her life Nat has tried to fight the power, and the voice she hears within her. She is convinced that there is a monster possessing her, and she knows that it gives her the powers that sometimes surface at crucial times in her life. It never occurs to her that her powers and the voice she hears in her head are a gift and not a curse. She never dreams that she is special and that her desire to see the Blue is more than just a dream.