Thirteen-year-old Warren Wilkes is most at home when exploring the wilderness of his beloved Cascade Mountains. When a local developer threatens this way of life, Warren attempts a childish prank which begins a series of events with supernatural consequences. As he attempts to avoid discovery, he discovers an ancient human skeleton with a valuable artifact. This artifact opens Warren’s eyes to an ancient and terrible past that not only threatens his way of life, but the very existence of humanity.
Referencing the Gaia hypothesis, that the earth itself is a vast living organism, this tale pulls together some of my favorite elements; an underdog character coming into his own, the value of true friendship, and some fantastical elements of fiction. I found this book a page turner in the truest meaning of the word, highlighted by one of the best uses of foreshadowing I’ve seen in a young adult novel in ages. Sidestepping the more common and less effective approaches of many authors of young adult fiction, Bennett takes a more oblique approach, referencing things to come without overtly exclaiming them to the reader.
Also very appealing is his visceral appeal for humans to take better care of the earth and the consequences that can (will?) result if we continue on our reckless path. By talking directly about the real estate developer living near Warren, and more indirectly about what happened to the ‘others,’ the reader is provided with a substantial picture of what could happen if we don’t change our behavior toward the earth and all she provides for us.
Early in the novel when Warren first begins to understand where the mysterious medallion might have come from, I found myself a little perplexed and not yet ready to buy into the supernatural elements of the story. I wish Bennett had spent more time effectively setting up the reader for the suspension of disbelief necessary when the science fiction elements really start rolling.
Overall, I found the novel engaging, entertaining and a fun, fast read. For fans of young adult science fiction, this will be a perfect addition to any library.