by Aaron Starmer
This book climbed inside my head! It is so unusual and I kept feeling like I should be able to figure everything out, but I couldn't until the author finally tied it all up for me at the end.
Martin grows up on an isolated island with only his father for a companion. He has never known his mother, and his father doesn't talk about what happened to her. All his father ever talks about is The Machine, a giant contraption that he and Martin work on endlessly in their backyard. Martin is sure it has a significant purpose, but before he can find out what it is, his dad and every other soul on the island disappear, as if into thin air, and Martin is alone.
Eventually, Martin leaves his island, but reaching the mainland offers no solace - it, too, is deserted, save for a handful of kids who have banded together to form a small town of sorts.
If you're expecting a remake of Lord of the Flies, you can relax. Although the kids do end up making some calamitous decisions, the story is not about them, really - it's about The Machine. Martin rebuilds it from memory, knowing that somehow it will provide the answers they are all seeking.
And eventually, it does, but I can almost guarantee it won't be in the way you're expecting! I ruined this book for both my teenage sons because I had to tell someone how it all ended, but I'll control myself here and let you find out for yourself.
This book earned it's PG-13 rating mainly for blood and violence, including a severed deer's head that makes a rather gory appearance. There is also some mild romance and shades of spookiness. I wouldn't recommend this book for anyone under age 11.
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