D.M. Dutcher 's Reviews > Armageddon Summer

Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen
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's review
Jan 27, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: children-s, literary
Read in January, 2012

Marina and Jed are two children whose parents get wrapped up with a tiny religious cult. At first it's not so bad, but when that cult believes only 144 will survive the end of the world, and they go to a mountain to wait for it, what will happen?

It's very easy for authors to fall into the trap of demonizing religious people, but Yolen and Coville avoid that admirably. Every character is real and has a personality and motivation, and there are no cardboard cut-out fundies here. It's not perfect: being a believer has an internal component about perceiving how God works in things that seems to be missing here, even granting the main characters are teens. But it's admirably fairhanded, much more so than even literary fiction on the subject.

That fairhandedness is the only downfall. Because they are trying to be such, they tend to pull back from some things that really need to be faced. The ending, for one-it's way too pat, and the anguish Jed in particular must feel needs to come through more. It's good that the characters are real, but they really needed not to shy away from what it means for real characters to behave and think like that, and the consequences. But it's still an excellent book despite that, from two of the best YA writers we have.

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