________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 12. . . .November 20, 2009

cover

The Midnight Charter.

David Whitley.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 2009. 319 pp., hardcover, $22.95.
ISBN 978-0-385-66564-3.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Betsy Fraser.

*** /4

   

excerpt:

He put his hand in hers and gave it a comforting squeeze. When he took his hand away again, a vial of black liquid lay in her palm. On the side, etched in rough strokes, the word Disgust looked back at her.

“You can conquer it without selling yourself, Lily,” the doctor said softly. “If you take it back into you before a day has passed it will be as if you had never sold it, otherwise it will be gone forever.” He turned his face away. “I am sorry for my anger. You didn’t know.

David Whitley’s debut novel presents a unique dystopia in an enclosed city-state named Agora. Agora is organized around trade: the “title day” and beginning of one’s adult existence is marked, at the age of 12, with a title gift, signet ring and one’s first official “receipt” to mark this exchange. All receipts are kept from this moment on. At the center of the story are two 12-year-olds, Lily and Mark. For different reasons, both of them upset the status quo of the society, bringing them to the attention of a highly political and very powerful society. Lily longs to change their city for the better, hoping to help people and teach people the value of charity, a view that is not popular in a world that revolves around trade. Mark, having initially been used as a pawn, triumphed over those who would have left him in the streets, and now glories in the fame life has afforded him. The two children have little idea how much they will end up needing each other.

     The Midnight Charter is a complex novel that will require and reward a patient reader. The intertwining plots unfold slowly and include mysteries, politics and a tremendous amount of detailed world building. It will appeal to both science fiction and fantasy readers. It leaves the door open for a sequel as Whitley gives us a chance to see what happens outside Agora’s walls.

Recommended.

Betsy Fraser is a librarian with Calgary Public Library.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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