Alone by Megan Freeman

4.25 stars Middle School

I have to admire an author that can take me on a journey using verse.  The word selection, the sentence structure, the punctuation, everything about the story has to be carefully selected by the author so they can lead their reader on a magical journey.  Set in Colorado, Megan introduces us to 12-year-old Maddie, who thought she was going to pull a fast-one on her parents but unfortunately, in the long-run Maddie ends up paying the price for what she did.  Alone, is a fantastic book about a world in which Maddie finds herself alone in, which had plenty of emotions as Maddie tries to survive on her own. 

I think we all have done something like this before but now, it was Maddie’s turn to try it.  She was telling her mom that she was staying at her dad’s house and then, telling her dad that she was staying at her mom’s house. Her friends are telling similar lies. Goal: sleepover at Maddie’s grandparent’s empty apartment.  Sounds like a great time but her friends get caught lying.  Maddie is by herself at her grandparents’ empty house. There’s noise outside the apartment during the night, but she’s technically not there so she stays hidden. In the morning, with her phone charged, alerts and warnings pop up on her screen. Imminent threat? Alert? When no one picks up or returns her calls, Maddie races home.  What is happening? Why isn’t anyone picking up their phone or returning Maddie’s phone calls?

Dang! What Maddie found is not good! Cell phones abandoned and individual houses look like people left in a hurry?  What was so urgent?  Maddie found the neighbor’s dog George, so at least she has someone to talk to but everyone, and I mean everyone is gone.  Eventually, Maddie has to start looking for food and supplies.  Searching in other people’s houses Maddie finds other pets that were left behind, some alive and some dead, they have been trapped in their houses. The two of them seem to be making it but for how much longer?  When Maddie has a question, the internet is no longer an option nor can someone provide the answer for her so Maddie takes her questions to the library.  Maddie looks up her questions at the library and while she’s there, Maddie begins to bring back books with her to read.  I liked reading about her experiences with the library.

It’s Colorado and the days are getting shorter.  Oh, I hate winter and just thinking about Maddie and winter, gave me the chills.  There’s also no electricity so Maddie has this to consider.  Would she be better off just packing some stuff and traveling to another city?  A year has passed and Maddie still wonders “when” they will be coming back for her.  I wonder, “if” they will be coming back.

I thought Maddie’s actions were typical for someone her age and I was happy to see that she didn’t get depressed or angry about her situation.  She addressed it a few times but she knew that she couldn’t just sit around and wait for someone to come rescue her.  She had to actively try to get food and supplies for herself and her dog so they could stay alive till someone came.  For more than 3 years, Maddie fought the elements, from the weather, to food, to emotional, and onto physical factors.  From snow and horrible rain storms, to fighting for food and hunting for it, to anger and being scared, and also enduring physical pain and exhaustion.  I still had some questions at the end of the book about the whole emergency situation, why Maddie was left alone so long and I really felt that the ending was rushed but I really enjoyed this book and the author use of verse to do so.  4.25 stars.

“If a birthday falls in the forest

but there’s no one there to celebrate

do we still get older?”

“Loneliness and insanity

are twin houseguests

and

it’s hard to entertain one

without inviting the other in

as well”

The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold

5 stars Science Fiction YA

Dang! I picked this book originally based on cover love and I’m so glad that it caught my eye.  I absolutely loved it!  I’m not normally a sci-fi reader and seeing the size of this book, I almost walked away but this book was amazing!  This was one of those books that I couldn’t stop thinking about as I tried to close the book and walk away.  I loved how the author weaved the story together and the second half of the book, was incredible,

I felt connected to Nico in this book and I enjoyed being a part of her journey.  I can’t describe Nico and her father’s bond, as I feel that the word love doesn’t define it properly. It felt greater than love. As she sat with her father reminiscing and discussing their future, they didn’t have to see eye-to-eye but they did have to respect one another.  You could tell that they appreciated each other and felt fortunate to have each other.  From Nico watching The Deliverer, to walking with Harry, to her meeting the other survivors, and following the plan, I traveled with her as she made her way. 

I did take a few side trips away from Nico where I met the other characters in the book on a more personal level.  From when Nico first described him, I pictured The Deliverer as something from The Twilight Zone. This character was brilliant. Where do you come up with this stuff?  This character was primo! I can’t go into too much detail The Deliverer but this character generated more, “What?!”  “No way!”  out of me then, anyone else.

Nico meets other survivors on her journey which amount to about a handful of individuals to remember.  Remembering how Nico lived, I had to wonder what was going through her head when she first saw them.  These individuals don’t realize how important they are to Nico and vice versa.  Everyone knows what they need to do to keep the swarm away as they’re out in the open traveling.  Letting their guard down, they would be able to hear the hum before they’re under attack, they just won’t have much time to do so. Each of them has seen what the swarm can do and they don’t want it to happen to them.  There is a bit of romance in this book with the characters but nothing dramatic or heavy. 

I was surprised how fast I read this book.  There was this momentum throughout the book, yet as I got to the second half of this book, the momentum increased as little details began to appear and everything started to come together. It was entertaining as the author began slipping these subtle details into the story, it was like I had discovered a clue.  I really hoped that I had caught all of these little details as I read the story.  It would have been nice to reread the book now that I have the whole picture in front of me but I needed to return the book to the library as someone else had a hold on the book.  I’m going to put this book on my birthday list and I hope to get my own copy because I definitely need to read this one again.  I highly recommend it, even if you don’t read sci-fi, if you like apocalyptic, fantasy, or dystopia books, this is one you should read.  5 stars