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Mara's island home is drowning as the ice caps melt and Earth loses its land to the ocean. But one night, in the ruined virtual world of the Weave, Mara meets the mysterious Fox, a fiery-eyed boy who tells her of sky cities that rise from the sea.

Mara sets sail on a daring journey to find a new life for herself and her friends - instead she discovers a love that threatens to tear her apart ...

337 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 2002

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About the author

Julie Bertagna

20 books105 followers
Julie was born in Ayrshire and grew up near Glasgow, where she now lives with her family. After a degree in English Language and Literature, she was the editor of a small magazine, a teacher and a freelance journalist. Julie has written many critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels for teenagers and younger readers. She speaks in schools, libraries and at book festivals across the UK.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 405 reviews
Profile Image for Mel (Epic Reading).
884 reviews272 followers
January 24, 2018
Exodus tells a unique, interesting and compelling story. However it is a story that should be told in 2-3 books ~200 pages each, instead of the 368 pages it is.

The Premise
We are taken to a time on Earth when the ice caps have melted and much of the Earth is under water. To a small community in what was once England/Stonehenge who are looking ground to the ocean every year. This portion of the story is very well developed and gives us a solid base for our main gal to develop her character and cleverness.
From here we travel to one of the 'sky cities' that are a marvel of engineering built way up above the ocean. But of course, as is always the case with dystopian fiction, there is not enough room for everyone and so any newcomers are condemed to remain outside of the seawall that protects this sky city.
I won't go into details after this as that would ruin the progression of the story. But at one point our lead gal meets with Treenesters (who are easily my favourite of all the group she meets). This group of people has so much literary potential to work with and Julie Bertagna only barely taps into it. I could easily have read a whole book about this group, it's challenges, beliefs and construct.

Really a story outline
With the exception of the opening few chapters on the small island and the occasional chapter throughout Exodus feels like a story outline that deserves, if not begs, for more to be revealed about it.
Bertagna has all these wonderous characters in extreme situations and instead of really looking at those characters and their way of life she rushes us through a (albeit interesting) dystopian plot that at times feels so convenient you'd think you bought the resolutions at a convenience store. This is a sign of under developed writing. Authors should be able to make you feel like the characters survived because they deserved to, or made that future happen; not just because someone opened a door at the perfect time.

I'd definitely read Julie Bertagna again in the future as I think she has lot of potential as a writer. Unfortunately Exodus just is rushed and doesn't do justice to the elaborate and interesting world she has built.

For this and more of my reviews please visit my blog at: Epic Reading

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Sarah.
148 reviews5 followers
June 25, 2008
It’s the year 2100 and Earth is underwater due to global warming. Communication with all parts of the world has ceased to exist because…what other parts of the world are left? Mara and her friends and family live on Wing, an island that has managed to survive the massive rising waters—until now. The people on Wing assume that there are other people somewhere in the world living on islands like they are…but they have no idea where. Little do they know that Mara uses her antique cyberwizz (similar to a laptop) each night to try to find a way to save their lives.

Sure enough, Mara discovers that not all of Earth’s inhabitants have drowned! Instead, the people appear to now live in new cities built high over the seas on things like stilts, safely protected from the rising waters. Curiously, these cities have towering walls all around them. Confident that this is the answer the people of Wing have been looking for, Mara convinces everyone that making the dangerous trip across unknown waters to this new sky city will save them all. After all, they wouldn’t be turned away once they finally arrive there, right?

This is a great book, sure to be enjoyed even by readers who aren’t normally fans of science fiction. Exodus is the first book in a planned trilogy, and I’m anxious to see what’s going to happen in the coming novels. The characters are likable and the author offers an interesting—if not scary—view of the future.
Profile Image for Alz.
83 reviews15 followers
July 9, 2012
3.5 stars

The themes in this book are very good, both the subtle and the upfront, particularly when they all come to a head in the end--themes about survival, ideals, the brutality of reality, and patriarchal societies. The worldbuilding is also interesting, detailed and thought-out enough to be plausible and acceptable, although some of the tech stuff that arose near the end went over my head--which maybe it was supposed to. Either way, it was well-written enough that it didn't bother me.

The tech in the beginning as well as the first few times Mara ventures into the Weave (their version of the internet) were somewhat off-putting because of how grandly vastly sparkly-wow it was described, with so much glittery detail, and yet I couldn't picture it and was confused as to how the Weave and her cyberwizz actually worked. Eventually I just had to accept at face value that it somehow connected her to the internet in a Matrix-y Futurama-y hacker-y sort of way.

There was some romance that went very quickly--I wouldn't say it was rushed, per se, since the circumstances were both sudden and trying, but it was rather fast. But since romance was not the focus of the story, it was all right.

The novel was a bit slow sometimes, and a few things bout the city were never quite explained to my satisfaction, but overall Exodus was a satisfying read, especially considering the glut of post-apocalyptic dystopias currently on the market.
Profile Image for Nicole (Reading Books With Coffee).
1,399 reviews34 followers
March 19, 2012
I liked the premise of the novel. But I was bored reading it, and I didn't like it as much as I thought I would.

I couldn't connect to any of the characters, and I felt like a lot of them were just there. Not only that, but we didn't get much info about the world that Mara lived in. I thought that was a little weird because Mara leaves her island, goes elsewhere, and doesn't really know anything about what's going on.

And considering she goes on a journey to a completely different place, you'd think it would be a little more adventurous than reading that there were a lot of people on a boat and there wasn't enough food or water for everyone. Seriously, that's all you have to say about that? Nothing about what the boat looks like or how many people are on the boat?

I just felt a little confused about what was going on. Mara didn't know anything, and so we didn't know anything. It just got very irritating. And it didn't feel very coherent. I don't mind a novel being divided into sections, but the 3 sections in the book felt very random.

I have to give it a 1 out of 5. I was bored, and I couldn't connect with anything in the book.
Profile Image for Ricki.
Author 2 books102 followers
February 1, 2009
I am not a science fiction reader, but I was hooked to this story. It took me about 70 pages to get really into the novel, but then I was hooked with the apocalyptic tale. It reminded me a bit of Dante's Inferno. I liked how it wasn't a fairy tale. Some characters, that I grew to love, died or disappeared. There was a strong connection to strong historical figures, like Martin Luther King. The book made me self-analyze if I could have the resolve and determination that Mara embodies.
I tossed between 4 and 5 stars for this one, as I wasn't sure if I liked it so much because I had low expectations for it to begin with. In the end, it is a book that made me think. Also, it is one that I won't forget in a year or so. And lastly, it made the short list of science fiction books I have enjoyed. Therefore, I give it 5 stars.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,157 reviews65 followers
September 15, 2008
In a world in which the ice caps are melting fast, any piece of dry land is very precious land. The last city that anyone knows about is New Mungo, and there are refugee boats surrounding it, and no one is allowed in (well, occasionally people are "picked" to go in but no one is sure if this is a good thing or bad.

Mara leaves her drowning island and arrives here to discover she's part of a prophecy.

It does feel like, and is promised to be part of a trilogy, but the original was published in the UK 5 years ago so who knows?
Profile Image for Jim.
77 reviews254 followers
February 29, 2012
I am rounding this up to 4 stars. I would probably put it around 3.7 or 3.8 if I had the option.

I definitely enjoyed this book and would recommend it. It is a very good, involving story that gets better as it goes along. The writing is good, but I agree with other reviewers that the style is best for, say, grade 6 and up. At the lower end of that range, I would be concerned about some very scary scenes and bad things that happen, especially in the first half of the book. It is fine for adult reading, but don't expect a lot of depth in the rendering of characters, or really detailed development of some of the weighty plot implications.

As I have said in other reviews, I read plausible dystopian novels, like this one, because I want to know at a visceral level just how awful the future may really be. I also want to see how some people manage to survive it, and what sorts of lives they are able to lead. All of those questions were treated with considerable skill here, and for the most part the story flowed very nicely and at a rapid pace.

For me as an adult reader, there were missing details that would have helped to understand more about this world. But I don't see that as a problem for younger readers. I was impressed by the strong, smart female protagonist - 15-year-old Mara - and it was very easy to care about her and many of the other characters. The emotional roller-coaster action was handled very well, and in general the plot elements were quite plausible. There were lots of interesting tidbits about the new world, its innovative engineering, and Mara's race-against-time quest there, and some nice bits about important relics from the old world. There was a definite sense of momentum in the action that carried all the way through.

I think this would be a very good book for parents to share and discuss with their young-teen kids. As things now stand, the world portrayed in this book is a lot more likely than most people are ready to admit. For kids who can handle the emotional trauma of fictional death, I believe that it would be a responsible act to let them know what may happen to their world. They may want to get involved in doing something about it before it is too late.
Profile Image for Jessica Horne.
67 reviews4 followers
February 26, 2016
This book had an interesting plot idea but poor delivery. This could have been a good trilogy if written better. Hardly anything was explained, the romance made zero sense, the emotions were not rational, I did not feel any connection to the protagonist. The first half of the book is description without much explanation. There seems to be a turning point approaching when they find the sky city (after a general description of a journey nothing personal to the character) only to frustrate me as it goes into more useless details of the netherworld beneath the sky city that has almost no impact on the plot or story. Much of this book felt like reading a history book. I personally like to be on the edge of my seat trying to solve the main characters dilemmas, trying to figure out what they will do next. A good book has me mirroring their emotions or at least evoking some reaction from me but this book did neither (except outrage at the lack of sense). I had to stop myself from skimming because I just wanted to get it over with.
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews1,970 followers
September 30, 2009
Full Review Link

Rod Serling’s Summary:

Picture a future, call it the year 2100. This girl you see here is Miss Mara Bell, and that rock she stands on is what she thinks is the last island in a sea-covered world. We’re about to discover that the sea won’t stop rising, and Miss Mara Bell is about to embark on the journey of a lifetime across an ocean of dreams, hopes and nightmares. She is about to skirt the edges of a strange new world, one that we call The Twilight Zone.


In the year 2100, Mara bleakly emerges from her battered family home after weeks of being sheltered inside, during a rare break in the hot, torrential rains. Her world, the island of Wing, is a drowned relic of older times and she’s alarmed to see that the sea has risen several feet, claiming ever more precious land for its own in the while she has been shut in. Mara knows that she and everyone left on Wing must soon leave their small, drowning island and soon, and after speaking with the village elder, Tain, Mara has some hope for the future. Tain remembers the early days when the floods started to claim the planet, and he remembers watching the television and seeing the construction of new cities in the sky, safe forever from the rising sea levels. Before young Mara can lead her people across the vast unknown ocean, she needs proof that someone or something else is out there, and she uses her ancient cyberwizz to scan the remains of the Weave for any evidence of life. When she meets another person, the Cyberfox, in the electronic ruins and then discovers the virtual superstructure of one of those mythical cities, “New Mungo,” Mara finally has all the proof she needs – and just in time. The latest storm has pushed the water even further up Wing with an immense tsunami, and with no other solution, the villagers hastily prepare to abandon their small rock with nothing but hope and fear to guide them.

Mara’s ship reaches New Mungo (though the other two are missing), but what she finds there is far from comforting – the city, twin towers of flexible, indestructible metal swaying over the sea is surrounded by a thick wall. And outside that wall there are boats; countless boats full of emaciated, dying refugees. Also, there’s a welcoming party for Mara and her fellow villagers – a shiny police speeder fires warning shots and charges at Mara’s boat, exploding in the water near them. Mara despairs, for she has led people from death by drowning to a death by starvation, and she resolves to find a way into the city, and to save her people, or die in the process.

Exodus is a breathtaking novel for its scope alone – from the submerged ruins of what used to be Britain, Mara travels across towering waves to the tattered outskirts of a wondrous city, then to forgotten covered forest remains of Glasgow beneath the city, and finally into the futuristic city itself. In Ms. Bertagna’s world, Earth has succumbed to a death by way of global warming. The ice caps are melting at an exponential rate, and by Mara’s time what ice is left at the poles is leading to the rapid water rise and destruction of the little island they call home. This is a book about the strength of the human spirit in the face of certain death and despair, as Mara and her people leave all they have ever known for a dream of hope in another city – and then when they reach the city, they are turned away like so much floating rubbish. In the waterborne slums surrounding the protective wall of New Mungo, Mara’s world changes – from the quiet solitude and gradual despair of drowning on Wing, the villagers face a new challenge in the refugee camps: death by starvation or sickness, forced to eat poisoned fish from the toxic waters of the city’s waste. Those few who are strong and young enough are whisked away by “pickers” from the city, but for what purpose, Mara has no clue, and she instinctively does not trust them. When hope is lost and Mara makes a last desperate stab to get past the outer wall, she finds herself in another world altogether beneath the city itself, anchored to the remains of Glasgow. Treenesting people here face the same threats that Mara did on Wing – though they are safe for the moment, the storms and ever rising sea threatens to submerge their refuge below forever, so Mara undergoes another transformation as she sneaks into the city itself. From the desperate worlds she has known all her life, the city is completely alien to Mara – people embrace a high technology society, without a thought or care for the outside world, or for their collective past.

The shifts in location are dizzying, but brilliantly written. Never once did I feel like the story “got away” from Ms. Bertagna; rather, she handles the numerous shifts in locations, scope and idea with a skilled, tempered hand. In addition to being a book that traverses wide and far physically, thematically it also is quite grand in its conception. Fear of death is Mara’s initial worry, but it melts and changes to fear of living while others suffer, or living a lie as those in the city of New Mungo do. There’s a discussion of the extent humans will go to in order to protect themselves and survive, whether it be on the cruel harsh reality of the refugee ships outside the city, to the cool blissful life inside its walls – but it all comes down to the same human element, as Mara discovers through Ms. Bertagna’s sharp pen. There’s also a look at how prophecy or spirituality plays into the end of the world (as you might tell from the biblical title) – but rest assured this is not a “religious” book. Something I’ve noticed in dystopian/apocalyptic novels is the tendency to go all or nothing in terms of science or religion – but Exodus manages to weave both prophecy and science together in an entirely satisfying and impressive way.

So far as characters are concerned, the story is narrated in the rare third person present tense, with insights to Mara’s thoughts. Getting to know and understand Mara is easy as she is a believable, scared, and sympathetic teenager. She’s a bit of the usual reluctant hero character, but her fears and worries and her willingness to brave the odds in the face of impossibility makes up for any blandness. The secondary characters too are well constructed, with a shocking amount of subplots and character arcs. Even though Exodus is just over 350 pages, there’s an immense wealth of detail and character here. My favorites had to be the eldest treenester Candleriggs and her heartbreaking story, and the orphan “water rat” Wing, named for Mara’s home. Even the characters we meet for just a few scant pages felt completely real, and this is testament to the strength of Ms. Bertagna’s writing. It’s truly impressive stuff.

So, in short, I loved this book. Moving on a number of levels, filled with action and with carefully constructed characters and a stunning breadth of plot, Exodus is easily one of my top notable mention reads of the year. And now I need to run out and get Zenith. Immediately.

Rating: 8 Excellent
32 reviews2 followers
April 15, 2020
I read this book nearly ten years ago and have been meaning to re-read it since - it didn't disappoint.

Bertagna manages to create a futuristic world which is a scary projection of our future if we don't respond to the problem of climate change. The novel is a fast-paced dystopian tale of a girl called Mara who must try to find her family and friends safe groun when their little island is at risk of flooding. Think action, adventure, fantasy, family, friends, love, sci-fi and a cliff-hanger to finish....you can't go wrong.

I now feel like I'm bound to finish the trilogy (again!) so watch this space! I would definitely recommend this novel.
Profile Image for Clair.
83 reviews19 followers
March 26, 2018
Review and rating to come when all book club members have finished reading.
Profile Image for Jennifer Wardrip.
Author 5 books479 followers
November 5, 2012
Reviewed by JodiG. for TeensReadToo.com

What if everything you've heard about global warming is true -- and we haven't done enough to change the course of events?

Mara is a fifteen-year-old girl who lives on the island of Wing. The polar ice caps are melting, flooding most of the earth. What is left of Mara's primitive island is rapidly being claimed by the rising tide. Among the ruins of an abandoned cyberworld Mara meets another, someone who promises her that there is a safe haven in the New World.

Mara convinces the people of her island that their only chance for survival is to sail north, where the sky cities can provide shelter against the rising storms and tides. However, they arrive to find that walls have been built around the city and that they are just a few of the refugees who are gathered around, hoping for entry. Life in the boat camp is a grim existence. Illness, hunger and death have penetrated the lives of Mara's group. Overwhelmed with guilt, Mara sets out to find a way to save her friends.

With a little help, Mara makes her way inside the gates and sets about to infiltrate the New World city of New Mungo. How can one girl face such insurmountable odds and save her people against a formidable adversary? Can she really take on an entire city to save her friends? If only she could find her cyberworld acquaintance, maybe he could help Mara.

EXODUS is a sobering reminder of the future we face if global warming is allowed to continue unchallenged. Julie Bertagna has presented a somber picture of what life may be like in the year 2099. She has balanced desperation with the enduring power of hope. When humans have hope, no challenge seems too difficult to face. The stark subject of the story is balanced with a fluid writing style that keeps you turning the pages and hoping for the best. EXODUS is already an international best seller and is being released to US readers in April 2008.

This is one of those stories that will stay with you forever.
Profile Image for Aerin.
411 reviews40 followers
May 10, 2009
Mara Bell is fifteen years old and the exact image of her grandmother Mary. She lives on Wing, an island in the northern part of an Earth nearly drowned by the melting of the polar ice caps. The waters are continuing to rise, and Mara must trust the instincts she inherited from the strong women in her family. She convinces her neighbors to flee the island for refuge in one of the sky cities, the tall feats of technology so high as to be safe from the storms and rising waters. When they reach the nearest city, however, they are barred from entering and treated like so much refuse that is expelled from the white city itself. Mara has to risk everything to save her people and the other refugees, and possibly fulfill a prophecy. And the waters continue to rise.

The cover of the copy of Exodus that I got from the library there is a quote from The Guardian: “A miracle of a novel. . .a book you will remember for the rest of your life.” I’m a theologian. Floods and Exodus. I remember another book with these phrases that have shaped my life. I didn’t think another could.

I was wrong. There is so much original, so much beautiful, so much of heartrending genius in this novel. The plot moves quickly and effortlessly, there’s action and science-fiction and myth (Joseph Campbell style) and romance. The best I can tell you is to run, run, run and read it yourself.

Read this book. You’ll not be sorry. Your heart and your head will reconnect with our own world of miracles.
Profile Image for Corinne Edwards.
1,413 reviews210 followers
January 22, 2016
Imagine our world if the ice caps really do thaw - what would it be like? What would we do to survive when we see the ocean creep up to the places we love? In Exodus, the cities and land that we know are now deep underwater and in the commencing chaos, Mara's ancestors settled on the tip of the island of Wing. As yearly storms rage and the water rises, her community realizes that soon there will be nothing left - and Mara has a crazy idea that might save them all.

What a plot! This post-apocalyptic story takes us all over the place, from ocean-bound islands to cities in the sky, Mara's search for a safe refuge will require a strength she's never needed before. It stretches the imagination a little bit and despite the narration feeling a teensy bit stagnant at times, I really enjoyed the people she meets and the tough decisions she makes. I really liked those glimpses that she gets of OUR life and what it really tells about us.

While the love interest didn't really blossom in this book (it actually fell a little short) I have a feeling it will continue in the next one. The book is full of ethical questions that I think would lend itself to an interesting discussion among young people. I've found myself thinking about this one when I'm not reading it, which is a sure sign that it's captured my attention. I'm glad I've got the sequel already out from the library!
Profile Image for Andy.
2,354 reviews176 followers
October 12, 2019
Wing is drowning. Mara Bell's home can no longer be her home. As they sacrifice their houses to rising sea levels, Mara and the elder Tain convince the people they must leave Wing and set out for New Mungo, a city in the sky.

This whole book irritated me. I didn't like the writing at all and the way every sentence was formed felt off. I also got a migraine while reading this, so that didn't help anything. The whole premise of this book was pretty damn depressing. While reading this book I either would be tempted to go read something else or not read at all. However, not only was this book depressing, it was really weird the whole time too.

We have Mara who was a pretty tame name. But then once they leave their island the find treenesters, and all these strange things. I wasn't a fan of it. I ended up skimming this book and still being able to understand what happened. Even that much I picked up irritated me. One good thing about this book is that it does point out how extremely dangerous and serious climate change is.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
645 reviews117 followers
October 29, 2012
This story started well and then kind of fizzled out. Too many different storyline directions, none of them resolved. If you're looking for a new Hunger Games, this will disappoint, but it might be an acceptable substitute for younger grades.
I had the sequels out, but I'm returning them to the library unread.
Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
879 reviews251 followers
February 6, 2020
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

I've had this book on my TBR for quite a few years and I've finally got around to it. It makes an interesting apocalyptic book, and it is still relevant, but the book didn't fully draw me in.

Mara lives on the island of Wing, but her island has been slowly swallowed up by the sea over the last few decades. Hoping for a new home for her people, Mara sets off to find the sky cities, cities that were built when the ocean first started taking over the land. But the journey comes with lots of risks and in the end, is there a place that is safe from the ocean?

This book was published eighteen years ago but the apocalyptic environment depicted is still relevant. Fears of global warming, climate change, and melting ice caps are even more prevalent now. In that sense, this world is even more frightening today because we can still see this future as a possibility. I did feel that the book was more focused on coastal areas and islands, which makes sense as this was first published in the UK. As someone who lives in a landlocked area, I was really curious how landlocked places were affected because the book makes it seem like the entire world is underwater. Still, the book did a great job of creating this future.

It took me a bit to get into the story. I think that mainly comes from the fact that I am just not as interested in dystopian/apocalyptic books anymore. I did eventually get more invested in the story, but the pacing of this book is strange. It felt slow, yet some important areas were sped through. Maybe that was just the writing style, but Mara travels through a variety of settings. From Wing, to the ocean, to the Treenesters, to New Mundo, etc. While we go through these settings very quickly, it did show how different these settings were from one another, while also letting Mara get familiar with the issues in every setting.

There is romance in this book and I was not a big fan. Up until the romance, this book read like MG, or young YA, which made the romance seem strange. It was very fast and I just didn't see the chemistry between them. They said they loved each other, but they weren't together very long.

Overall, I did like it but the story couldn't always keep my interest. I do think the concept is still relevent. The ending felt like it could have made this into a standalone if it weren't for some of the unanswered questions in New Mundo. But Mara's story felt pretty concluded. Still, there are two more books. I own the sequel, so I'm going to go ahead and read it.
Profile Image for Tegan.
107 reviews4 followers
June 21, 2022
Mixed feelings. Interesting premise. Very relevant, I’d say, in the same way that Don’t Look Up felt relevant.

But the story also felt off.

The world felt confusing. I couldn’t picture things: the cyber world, the netherworld, the new world. Honestly, I wish there had been pictures in this book because I was quite lost in terms of the setting.

The characters race around because Mara has an idea to save them, and, no spoilers, but the hope seems pretty flimsy from where I’m sitting. There’s a (totally unnecessary) prophecy that makes her the chosen one, which I’m still annoyed about. Where does that come from? Seriously, you could just take it out completely and the story would be unchanged. Mara doesn’t have to be the hero of prophecy, maybe just have good ideas?

Similarly, the romance was a bit cringe and I wish they didn’t. Very, “I met you once for ten minutes but I will love you for the rest of my life.” For both of them. It’s a yikes from me.

Im annoyed because the story had potential, but for me it fell flat.
144 reviews3 followers
September 27, 2020
I LOVED this. Downloaded after the Prime Minister’s visit to a school and this on the bookshelf, I was intrigued by the premise of a world post-melting of ice caps. Education is shown to be a fragile luxury of a time where we are not clamouring to survive.. and how quickly what was common becomes a myth.
I’ve loved good teenage fiction since I was a teenager. Now, I value a clearly communicated story just as much. A warning for our times.
Profile Image for Jenna.
933 reviews41 followers
January 31, 2021
Exodus by Julie Bertagna was a very difficult read; it was slow, boring, illogical and dull. The writing and story telling were both exceedingly clunky and awkward to read. The characters were empty shells with no personality or characterisation. The story was ever so dull and could have been easily concluded in 50 pages. The protagonist, Mara, sounds and acts like an 8 year old and faces no real trials over the course of the book, leading her to have zero character growth. Definitely not a series I will be continuing.
6 reviews2 followers
May 23, 2014
An interesting idea for a book. The ice caps are melting, sky cities are being built, but people aren't being let in
That's really the only good part I found in this book.
I kept reading, kept waiting for something interesting to happen, but I didn't get what I was waiting for. I got a bunch of things that didn't make sense.
The main character is rather peculiar. During the storms on her island, she shows absolutely no fear; the thunder and lightning and pouring rain has no effect on her. She just gets bored, aches to be outside. Though she's been living through storms her entire life, their should still be some hint of fear, since the storms seem to be almost mini hurricanes. Trees would be knocked down if there were any, houses knocked down if they weren't stone. Anyone caught out in a storm is as good as dead, yet she waits until the last minute to come inside. She's reckless like this throughout the entire book, wants to die multiple times.
During the storm, she uses her cyberwizz; technology that lets her essentially fly through the Weave, although her movement is simply and always described as 'wizzing'. The Weave is essentially a digitized web, all the information there for the taking, physical things made out of electricity for Mara to find and sift through. Somehow, monsters and ghosts are also created (cyberdogs attack her, and she's concerned about Weave ghosts, though still not particularly fearful). How she got the cyberwizz and how she's so simply perfect at it is never really explained.
Furthermore, she somehow falls through a bridge (though if she's 'wizzing' around, I don't see how that's possible) and then falls out of the Weave. There she meets a cyberfox.
Later on she convinced everyone to go to a sky city, almost drowns when her best friend and family die because she wants to die as well, is broken into the city by an orphan child (she describes him and the others as urchins), is found by Treenesters (curious people with different ways), wanders around their for awhile and learns of the Stone-telling (the Treenesters' prophecy that they will be saved one day if they basically just sit there). That's the entire first 3/4 of the book. She then breaks into the sky city, meets the Cyberfox in real life, falls in love with him over a couple hours, has him shut down the entire city, frees all of the slaves, Treenesters, and refugees waiting to get into the city that they've been refused entry to, and the book ends as they are on ships heading North. That's the insane, impossible ending of the book.
The entire thing isn't really plausible. There's no way no security in this awe-inspiring sky city didn't detect her. There's no way one simple virus shut down the entire city in a split second and kept it down for probably a good hour. There's simply no way the book is possible.

It was an interesting read, nonetheless. I was particularly enthralled by the Treenesters, though their origin isn't really delved into, except for Candelriggs, the leader. I can't tell if Gorbals is a young child or Mara's age; he seems to switch between the two. I can't tell if Broomielaw is Mara's age or a young woman; she does the same as Gorbals, as do many of the other Treenesters.

It generally was a great idea, but could have been executed much better. Less detail on the sky city, and getting to the climax before the last fourth of the book, just for starters.
Profile Image for Samantha (A Dream of Books).
1,131 reviews92 followers
March 20, 2011
'Exodus' takes a giant leap into the future and is set in 2099 at a time when global warming has wreaked havoc on the planet and the melting of the polar icecaps has led to mass flooding and destruction. The story begins on the island of Wing which is in danger of being engulfed by the rising sea level. When the situation worsens the residents of the island have to set out to seek new land and a new life.

The story is told through the eyes of Mara who has never known a life beyond the one her and her family have led on Wing. One night when she is wizzing through the Weave (which seems to be a version of the web), she stumbles across a Fox who shows her evidence that the mythical Sky Cities really do exist. She convinces the other islanders to leave their homes behind but what they find may not be the safe haven they were hoping for.

Julie Bertagna has written a fast-paced story which is both immensely enjoyable as well as educational. A serious ecological and environmental message is conveyed throughout and provides a warning about the sustainability of the earth and how we look after the planet. This is done in a way which doesn't come across as being too preachy but actually makes you stop and think about some of the issues which are raised.

I found the plot totally absorbing. It really kicks into gear in the middle section of the book where the islanders arrive on the outskirts of New Mungo. The nightmare which faces them is both horrifying and shocking and I ended up turning the pages faster and faster as the story progressed, right up until the climatic finale.

Mara is a great central character. She's intelligent and brave and a born leader and she has a well-honed sense of survival which stands her in good stead for some of the situations she has to face. She has to make tough decisions at times and find a strength within her which she never thought she had. Her friendship with Fox develops near the latter part of the book and he is a bright spot for her in an otherwise bleak world. I found some of the scenes between the two of them heartrending but also hopeful. I like the fact that even amidst the devastation around them, they manage to find each other and each inspire something in the other.

The predictions made in 'Exodus' about the future are terrifying and appalling and the themes and issues are extremely thought-provoking. I thought that the story was full of suspense and action and was fantastically imaginative and inventive.

Profile Image for Lauren James.
Author 16 books1,418 followers
June 12, 2017
A future dystopia about the sea levels rising and a village that is one of the only islands left in the UK slowly going underwater. The internet is a kind of 3D world that has been long since abandoned and the girl starts exploring its ruins, and finds a fox avatar that she makes friends with. Online dating of the coolest most adventurous kind.

This is one of those books which is totally under-appreciated. It’s one of my absolute favourites, and it’s insanely well thought-out and unique. But, more importantly right now, the love interest is a fox. LITERALLY, A FOX. Mara goes exploring a long forgotten and abandoned internet world, which is kind of like a 3D Sims land, and she meets a fox avatar of another user who is also exploring these internet ruins. (I know it sounds weird….trust me, it makes sense in the book.)

It takes the ‘internet romance’ trope to a completely different level of amazing, and the cyberfox….GOD. GOD. (Yes, that’s all I’m going to be able to say about any of these choices, but can you blame me?!?)
Profile Image for ambyr.
856 reviews78 followers
October 21, 2015
There were flashes of this that I liked. Mara really worked for me as a character, and I loved the beginning, with its description of life on the slowly failing island and the determination of the villagers to cling to what they knew even when they also knew it had no future.

Unfortunate, most of the rest of the book left this mantra in my head: Technology doesn't work that way. Libraries don't work that way. People don't work that way. Exodus didn't so much suspend my disbelief as hang it from the moon. And the "romance" was so abrupt and pasted on that I literally had to stop and rewind my audiobook to make sure I hadn't missed something.

I retain a slight shred of curiosity about what Mara and her cohort do next . . . but not enough to read the second (or third!) volume.
March 29, 2012
**the setting (think former orkney islands north of scotland) --one of my favorite places and cultures, but might be too stark and nordic for some readers' taste.
**the ending ... ooh, how twisty and unusual. not the stereotype "can't live without you, so who cares about the rest of the world."
**our heroine's strength, moral compass, and clear-sightedness

this is a bit more literary and genre-specific than the average YA dystopia, which limits the adoring audience a bit.

PG13 for severe climate events and their fallout; slavery, suffering, and indifference; a brief discussion of how one character ended up being a sort-of single mother
13 reviews2 followers
March 10, 2014
Such a good book. Truly a fantastic adventure of a girl in the future where the ice caps are melting and the world is sinking beneath the waves. Mara's world (her island of Wing) is disappearing and having been cut off, not knowing if there is more people out there, except one hope ; Fox a mysterious being Mara meets while searching the remains of the weave (cyberspace)for clues.

Fantastic story, really sucks the reader in. a great reading book for upper ks2. i feel that this is the kind of book which can help children enjoy independent reading, sinking into a future world, with links to our own and characters which you connect to and hope for.
Profile Image for Carol Coutts.
18 reviews2 followers
March 13, 2010
Dystopic story.
what happens when global warming exceeds expectations and the world as we know it floods. Sky cities are born and cities grow on higher elevations. Story of Mara who struggles when her island city begins to disappear. She and her community escape to a sky city only to be barred entry. She figures out a way to save the refugees and the undercitizens of the sky city by infiltrating the sky city. Story ends with escape and the promise of a new civilization but the loss of a potential soulmate.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for BookBairn.
294 reviews9 followers
September 15, 2020
Wow! This was incredible! The sea has risen and is still rising and the consequences are dire for many (but not all). I loved the storytelling, the setting and the characters. I did find in places it was trying to race through a lot of plot (I guess that’s because it’s aimed at younger readers) and preferred the slower pace parts that had more depth of language and characterisation. Oddly I’m not sure if I will read the rest in this series but I definitely enjoyed this one greatly!
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