Monday, 19 November 2012
Book Review: Night of the Purple Moon by Scott Cramer
Author: Scott Cramer
Format: E-book (PDF)
Published by: Train Renoir Publishing
Date published: 2012
Length: 186 pages
Genres: Fiction, Trilogy, Apocalypse, Teens book, Sci-Fi, Fantasy,
The Synopsis: The epidemic strikes only those who have passed through puberty. Abby Leigh is looking forward to watching the moon turn purple. For months, astronomers have been predicting that Earth will pass through the tail of a comet. They say that people will see colorful sunsets and, best of all, a purple moon. But nobody has predicted the lightning-fast epidemic that sweeps across the planet on the night of the purple moon. The comet brings space dust with it that contains germs that attack human hormones. Older teens and adults die within hours of exposure. On a small island off the coast of Maine, Abby must help her brother and baby sister survive in this new world, but all the while she has a ticking time bomb inside of her -- adolescence.
The Review (Warning - Contains Spoilers)
Plot & pace - 12 year-old Abby is looking forward to Spring Break, the first time she'll get to spend time with her best friend Mel, since moving to Castine Island three months ago. The lead-up to Spring Break is overshadowed by the
Comet Rudenko-Kasparov. When Earth entered the comet’s tail for the first time, astronomers predicted weeks of colourful sunsets, sunrises and a purple moon. No-one could have though that with Greenhouse Emissions and pollutants poisoning the air it would damage the protective atmosphere. But it did and space dust enters the world. The lead-up was somewhat the opposite of an anti-climax; it was brief and suddenly wham we are in the story. Told over 5 pages, I thought the author could have drawn out the first part as there was scope to develop the opening sequence further.
Continuing with the story, Abby wake to a crash at her neighbours house. A lorry driven into the wall. To make things worse her dad is missing, she has a toddler, Toucan to look after and a brother, Jordan who doesn't take their situation seriously at first. Things chance when her neighbours, the Patels turn up at the door and the realisation soon begins to dawn on them; where is everyone else. No parents, no emergency services, no other children. Are they left in this apocalyptic world? All lines of communication are down; just automated radio for company. Investigations continue and they search for remaining survivors, banking all their hope that someone will show up. But no-one does. All the adults they know are on the Island are dead.
This opening was really well escalated. Though I could foresee that the majority of adults would be dead it still played out really well and I enjoyed it. Though at this stage quite a few other characters came into the story, meaning of course the remaining survivors, there were not too many to try and keep track of and as a reader, you soon develop a relationship with each one. What I most liked was how well the age of the characters was captured in their responses. It wasn't "oh well, we can fend for ourselves, we're 12 years old." It was more "let's wait till mum gets home, she'll know what to do." It showed maturity in decision making and reliance on parents at the same time, echoing the characters age.
As more survivors turn up, they make the decision to leave. Realising they are virtually on their own they try to maintain some form of normality. Setting up camp in a mansion, with farmland and facilities on hand to help them manage. Thrown into it are disputes and typical teenage tantrums, gangs and bullying over resources and new found freedom of no rules and punishment. The chapter when Jordan drives around in a police car is particularly enjoyable; come on, everyone wants to go in one and turn on the siren! It's a secret guilty pleasure. Yet other responsibilities, set up in the mansion, included collecting dead bodies. Even if you are 12-years-old, had seen your parents lifeless body, I'm not sure that they could face gathering dead bodies and taking them out to sea.
Connections are made to the outside world via Radio transmission which lets them know that a small percentage of adults have survived, living in bunkers underground and trying to build a vaccine to the space-dust anti-virus. Part of me did question whether the remaining adults would have sent a location for children to travel to and open up the bunkers to allow them to stay underground and so not die. I cannot imagine so many would have been OK with the thought of millions of children left on their own, in the face of so much danger and would have expected a few to venture out and try to battle the elements.
The closer and closer the survivors get to adolescence the more and more urgent and desperate the need for a vaccine becomes. Of course you lose a few on the way; some close characters which are hard to see go. But will Abby and Jordan get there in time? I must admit the later chapters that counted down the days till they got the vaccine, coupled with the amount of days before the virus would kill them was like a cat and dog chase and it was quite a page turner. I won't spoil the ending; it's really, really good though!
Characters - I somehow connected with all the main characters. I won't go into details about everyone; the main one for me was Abby. She's a courageous young girl who takes on the role and responsibility of being mum to her brother, little sister and other survivors. She essentially wears the trousers in the mansion without being obvious. Within the majority of characters is warmth and love, trying to get to grips with the reality of their situation and making the best out of what they've been faced with. There is the odd bit of romance but it's not overt and sentimental. The most moving part is the loss of friends and relatives; it is what is not said that puts a lump in your throat.
Language Used & Dialogue - The book has a good balance between dialogue and description, though I would say it is more dialogue which drives the story-line than the description itself. Yet, that is what makes the book more interesting; seeing the reaction, behaviour and attitude of those left in this dire situation rather than going into a ridiculous detail about the space dust or environment. The description and language isn't difficult to digest, it's not amazingly beautiful, but what carries it is the little pieces of body language and behaviour by the characters that emphasises what's being said.
Setting - The main place of interest concerned with this story is Castine Island, in Portland. It's not hard to picture; as someone who doesn't know the geography of the US amazingly well, I found it relatively straightforward to imagine the little fishing community by the sea. Perhaps the setting is something which could have been fleshed-out, like the opening sequence. We had chapters where character were travelling around the town but nearly always the seasonal fog rolled, obscuring their vision and so we could only pick up bits and pieces along the way.
Narration - the narrative is not exclusively told from Abby's view point; many other characters were also followed throughout the book. It's partly why I identified with the main leads as there was time dedicated to each of them in the book.
Themes & Ideas - The overwhelming theme I picked up on was the analogy of puberty against alien bacteria. During adolescence many people can feel alien within their own body; seeing a physical change when mentally you are still a child. It added to that Peter-Pan wish of not wanting to grow up; if they did, it would ultimately mean death.
Though there was an apocalyptic feel too it, the book wasn't pessimistic, like so many within the genre. It wasn't a dog-eat-dog world, more rational thinking and management of the situation. It made it slightly more believable taking the optimistic path.
The Verdict - Overall I highly enjoyed the book. The authors pitched the age group just right, mixing in death, Apocalypse, love, loss, responsibility, adolescence and teenage rebellion all into a solid story-line. As such, I think many young teens would identify with the characters and themes discussed in the book, as well as being entertained by an imaginative and gripping plot. 3.5* Stars.