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Bev Spencer
Richmond Hill (Ont.), Scholastic Canada, 1993.171pp, paper, $4.95
ISBN 0-590-74583-2. CIP

Grades 6 to 9/ Ages 11 to 14

Reviewed by Alison Mews.

Volume 21 Number 4
1993 September

The tunnels and chambers of Gen's underground world are all he has ever known. As successor to the Guardian, his stern and unbending father, Gen has devoted his life to training for his destiny as ruler of Senedu.

With his every movement accounted for, Gen provides for himself an illusion of freedom by escaping to the forbidden airshafts for a little privacy and excitement. His defiance not only provokes censure but also becomes the catalyst for uncovering disturbing truths about his world.

In order to save Senedu from the very real danger of the Dragon and the Wizard, who are dismissed as mythology in his culture, he must persuade the others to reject the basic premise on which Senedu was built. He finds that the minds of the ruling Councillors are as closed as their world. He must save them from themselves and, in so doing, fulfils his destiny in a way he never could imagine.

Similar in many ways to both Suzanne Martel's City Underground and Monica Hughes' Devil on My Back (J. Macrae Books, 1984; Bantam Books, 1986), this is a caution­ary tale about the evils of nuclear warfare. In many ways the story is subservient to the message, and the author cannot resist moralizing, especially through the voice of the Wizard. The story is well paced and, despite some awkwardness of phrasing, will retain the attention of readers. That this theme still persists in science fiction novels for young people is testament to the fact that such a warning remains necessary. Recommended with reservations.

Alison Mews is Coordinator of the Centre for Instructional Services, faculty of Education, at Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland.
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