|The One Safe Place|
by Tania Unsworth
"In this near-future dystopia with echoes of "The Giver" and "Among the Hidden," Tania Unsworth has created an unsettling page-turner fast-paced, smooth, filled with dread that s wholly satisfying and startlingly original.
Devin doesn't remember life before the world got hot; he has grown up farming the scorched earth with his grandfather in their remote valley. When his grandfather dies, Devin heads for the city. Once there, among the stark glass buildings, he finds scores of children, just like him, living alone on the streets. They tell him rumors of a place for abandoned children, with unlimited food and toys and the hope of finding a new family. But only the luckiest get there.
An act of kindness earns Devin an invitation to the home, but it s soon clear that it s no paradise. As Devin investigates the intimidating administrator and the zombie-like sickness that afflicts some children, he discovers the home s horrific true mission. The only real hope is escape, but the place is as secure as a fortress.
Fans of dystopian fiction and spine-chilling adventure will devour "The One Safe Place"; its haunting themes will resonate long after readers have turned the final page."
I am often horrified to hear of 4th and 5th grade teachers who have used The Hunger Games as a read-aloud in their classrooms. There are dystopians that are much more appropriate for middle graders than things like The Hunger Games and Divergent . I don't care how many movies get made from those series, they are too dark and twisty for elementary students, or even lower middle school students. However, The One Safe Place can join the likes of Among the Hidden and The City of Ember series as dystopian books that those ages (and over) can enjoy. Not that this book isn't dark, and it definitely has twisty people, but it is not the blood and gore that is thrown in your face constantly in the others. I really enjoyed this book. It had great world-building, the writing was good, the plot was intense and creepy, the main characters were love-able and the secondary characters were one of my favorite parts. My only problem with it was the ending, I prefer my endings nicely wrapped up, but this one felt more like The Giver - a little too up-in-the-air for me. But it WAS an ending, I would just like to know what happens from there. Is there going to be a sequel? I haven't heard of one. However, that was a very small little complaint in an otherwise great book. It is a quick and exciting read and I highly recommend it.
Areas of concern:
Children are harmed and put in dangerous and unhealthy situations.
Was there any bad language? I don't remember, so it must not have been too obvious because I do tend to notice that :) .
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 10+
School Library Journal - Grades 5-8