A (nuclear?) war has wiped out most of the human population from Earth and the survivors are grouped into communities that forage in ruined cities for essential resources, such as metals. The main protagonist is Ethan who leads one of the foraging groups. Ethan has special powers, which, we are led to understand, have come about through genetic mutation. Since mutations within the population are meant to be obliterated by those in authority he has to conceal them even though his powers help him survive all kinds of situations. There are predatory mutants outside the communities who wear human bones as armour and who attack regularly, and are a constant threat to anyone leaving the protective walls of the communities.
I liked the general plot and the main characters of Ethan and Nanako, with their love story providing a sweet side issue to contrast with the tension between the foraging team and the Custodians. The Custodians are the autocratic, pseudo-militaristic police force that appear to behave with impunity. Unfortunately, I did not care very much about any of the characters apart from Ethan’s younger sister, who was sick, and the long-suffering but feisty Nanako. This was because either they were too thinly drawn or, like Ethan, their dialogue was too unrealistic. This is a novel aimed at young adults and there were too many times when the teenage Ethan spoke like a very staid fifty-year old.
The themes of his super powers, the evil Skel, and the source of authority for the Custodians could have been developed in greater detail. However, I thought the story had pace and demanded that you turned the page for more. I realise that this was the first book in a series but it ended too abruptly for my liking, and the lack of essential detail in the interesting areas described previously was unsatisfying to this reader.
Rating: 3 stars (WoW Blog)