Wing is an isolated island in the Northern Sea. Each year the seas rise a little farther, forcing the people of Wing to move upland. And each year the winter storms hit Wing even harder. For fifteen-year-old Mara the storms are frightening, and she is convinced that there must be some way to escape the situation.
In her spare time Mara uses the Weave, an ancient virtual reality system, to search for information about what Earth was once like and what happened to the rest of the world. Most modern technology no longer works, but pieces of the Weave still operate, and Mara is able to tap into it. The Weave once bustled with human avatars, but now it is empty, and all that is left are representations of the disturbing wreckage of Earth’s civilization, interrupted at its very peak by world disaster. The Weave is full of frightening calls for help, and last minute news reports about worldwide flooding.
But deep in the Weave Mara finds clues that lead her to believe that just before the world flooded a series of elevated cities were built on huge platforms above the water. These cities were called New World cities, and in pictures they appear beautiful, with intricate platforms and tubes. Mara dreams about finding one of these cities and leading the people of her island to live there.
Finally Mara uncovers clues that reveal the location of a New World city called New Mungo. Excited, she uncovers her ultimate plan to the people of Wing. They should sail South, leaving Wing behind, and become a part of New Mungo.
After some deliberation the people of Wing decide to leave their island. Really they have no choice. The sea is rising so rapidly that they may not be able to survive another winter without being washed out to sea by rising floodwaters.
So the people of Wing set out for the New World city. Upon arriving at New Mungo, though, they find themselves locked out. New Mungo is a giant elevated city and its residents have little concern for any others who may have the misfortune to not have an elevated city of their own. The thousands of refugees that live below New Mungo have nowhere else to go, and now the people of Wing have no choice but to join them. The squalid conditions of the refugee camp cause sickness and anger. Even the danger of Wing would be preferable.
But Mara is still determined to save her people. If she could just find some way past New Mungo’s defenses then perhaps she could find a way to save not only the people of Wing, but the other suffering refugees as well.
“Exodus” is an amazing story in all respects. Author Julie Bertagna has envisioned a stunning world, reminiscent in some ways of “The Other Side of the Island.” In a world engulfed with water there is limited interchange of ideas, and as a result each group of isolated people develops their own dramatically different culture.
This makes for some very interesting characters. All of the main players in “Exodus” are well designed, with their strong and weak points to balance them out. I will be especially interested in seeing how “Exodus” develops as a series. The book ends with plenty of room for further developments, and I’m sure that a sequel will come soon.
I definitely recommend “Exodus” as one of the most interesting utopian/dystopian novels I’ve read.
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