Author: Julie Bertagna
Release date: 4th Feb 2011 UK
Genre: Dystopia / Futuristic
Target audience: 12+ (although I know some of my Year 6s have been studying this in their literature circles)
UK Publisher: Macmillan
Exodus is a powerful novel of the future. It is a visionary novel and a monumental feat of imagination.
Mara lives on the island of Wing. The island is fast disappearing. Every year the sea eats away at the land. The island inhabitants are battling against the angry weather. A century of storms have reshaped the world as we know it and soon there will be nowhere for the people of the island to take shelter. Mara lives for the days when there is a gap in the weather when she can escape the stone cottage and visit her friends. She talks to old Tain and he encourages her to believe in a future away from the island. He tells the story of New World where great cities that rise above the oceans on stilts. Mara is a girl who sees beyond the here and now. She believes in Tain’s legend and searches the Cyberweave for proof that New World exists so that the islanders can escape before it is too late.
Exodus is full of breathtaking visions of the future: the physical structure and organisation of the cities of New World, the concept of the Cyberweave and the evolutionary adaptations of some humans to survive in the weather ravaged habitat. Some of the ideas were so impossibly futuristic that I found them hard to grasp at first. The experience of being with Mara is the Cyberweave was at first disorientating and I had to read the paragraph a few times. I even put the book down and had to come back to it because it was such an extraordinarily different experience that my mind couldn’t perceive it. Certainly the more you give yourself to Exodus, the more you will get from it. I also think that the generation who have grown up with constantly changing technology will understand this book in a far more visual way that those of us who were born on the cusp of the internet revolution.
Exodus is also a book that explores the choices we make. It goes beyond the question of our right to use all of the Earth’s resources for our own luxury. It looks at what these choices will do to our futures. How will we connect to other people? Will we bond only through virtual experiences? Will it take someone who has lived a far different life on a remote island to change the course of the future? Yet among all the dark and sinister themes of this book, there are also those that one would expect to find in teenage fiction: friendship, first love and the heartbreak of loss.
This book begins in a way that I have never read before. I imagine it is as if a camera in space records the story of the people on our planet from the very first moments and into the future. It is very few words and yet it says so much about our species. The view then switches to the island and just like a camera zooms in on Mara and the people of Wing. Exodus is a literary, conceptual illustration of the future. It is exquisitely written and if you give yourself to the challenge of reading it, you’ll find it will take your breath away. I even visited this book in my dreams. It is exhilarating, frightening and extraordinary.
Thanks to Macmillan for sending the book to review.
Read for the British Books Challenge 2011