Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Virginia Bergin
Fiction  Series
For ages 13 and up
Sourcebooks Fire, 2015   ISBN: 978-1492615323

Many of us take rain for granted. We grouse when we get too much of it, and complain bitterly when flooding disrupts out lives. Still, even those of us who live in wet places know that rain is essential to our survival and it is precious. For centuries rain has watered our crops, given us water to drink and has allowed our species to thrive - perhaps a little too much some would say.

Then everything changed. Seven years ago an asteroid was destroyed in space. The debris came to Earth and entered the atmosphere, creating “a really gorgeous firework display” that people all over the planet saw. Most of the pieces of rock disintegrated into dust before they could crash to earth, becoming fine dust that made beautiful sunsets that millions of people admired. What no one knew then was that the dust contained a deadly, hidden passenger.

Ruby is in the middle of a passionate in-a-hot-tub-and-wearing-undies kiss with Caspar McCloud when that hidden passenger makes itself felt. Suddenly Zak’sfather yells at the smooching teens, telling them to “Get out!” Soon Ruby, Casper, and the rest of Zak’s friends who attended his party are in the house thinking that Zak’s dad has lost it. The first clue the kids get are the words “It’s in the rain.” They are all told to stay in the house, but Caspar sneaks out to get his Mp3 player, and when he comes back it becomes immediately evident that there is indeed something in the rain. Disease. Sickness. A deadly bug that has been killing people in Africa and South America. It’s in the rain.

Zak’s mother decides to take Caspar to the hospital and she drops Ruby off at her house on the way. When Ruby gets home Simon, her stepfather, insists that she goes into the den and then he locks her in. He is afraid that she has been contaminated and until he is sure that she is not sick she has to stay put so that she can’t infect the rest of the household.

In the morning Simon lets Ruby out of her prison and she really isn’t too angry. She understands that he was trying to protect himself, her mother, and her baby stepbrother. It’s okay. But then she finds out that it isn’t okay. Ruby’s mother got a little rainwater on herself when she was throwing medicine to a sick person who was in their garden and now she, and her baby boy, are both dead.

Simon impresses on Ruby that she has to be careful and to think about her actions. She has to do everything she can to stay safe. She has to survive. She has to stay away from the rain (obviously), tap water, and sick people. She cannot use the toilet or shower, and must not eat anything that could be contaminated with the deadly rainwater.

Even though Ruby has seen Caspar dying and her mother and brother dead, she still does not fully appreciate the enormity of what is happening. Even when there is no Internet, no phone, and only a recorded message on the TV, she still thinks about seeing her friends and retrieving her cell phone from Zak’s house.

Ruby then learns about the space bacteria that is in the rain. It is unaffected by extreme heat or cold, and when it encounters water it replicates like crazy. Then it gets hungry and when it comes into contact with human skin it makes a beeline for the blood, which it seems to have craving for, perhaps because of the iron that blood contains. After a few drops of contaminated water lands on a person they only have a few hours to live. There is no cure.

Ruby and Simon stay indoors and try to pass the time as best they can, but eventually they have to go out to try to find supplies. The supermarket near the house has been emptied by looters and so they start entering the homes of the dead. It troubles them both, but what can they do. They manage to find some bottled water and canned food and then Simon drinks from a bottle of water that wasn’t sealed. Seconds after doing so he knows and Ruby knows. Simon runs home, locks himself in with the bodies of his wife and son, and it isn’t long before he too is gone. Ruby is alone.

It is hard to imagine what it would be like to live in fear of rain, but this is what happens in this gripping, terrifying, and fascinating story. Readers will find it very hard to set the book aside once they start reading, so eager will they be to find out what happens to Ruby.

This is the first book in what promises to be a wonderful series.