One afternoon, nearly everyone in the world disappeared, leaving Martin Maple and a village of kids to try to survive long enough to find them again.Â
After Martin's father leaves on a trip, Martin notices the rest of the island's population seems to have vanished as well. Because he's only ever had his father and one single friend, Martin learns about the world and self-socializes through reading books before setting off to the mainland to find out if he is truly alone. He finds the last town believed to exist, the newly named Xibalba, populated by the children left behind. Although the third-person narration closely follows Martin, a somewhat self-involved child who finds other people to be mysteries, the rich side characters come alive through their distinct traits and abilities. And Martin has an ability of his own: machinery. After spending his life at his father's side learning how to build a machine that he doesn't know the purpose of, Martin decides he will build one that will save them all. The stakes are real for the kids trying to survive in the remnants of civilization; actions have consequences. Not every question is answered, but the story is so dependent on the asking that it works.Both literary and engaging, this is the kind of book readers will want to return to for new discoveries. (Science fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
In Starmer's (Dweeb) unsettling post-apocalyptic tale, Martin Maple has grown up with his father on an island in near- total isolation. When his father fails to return from a trip to the mainland, 12-year-old Martin ventures ashore for the first time and finds everyone gone. Traveling across the country, he discovers nothing but empty homes and abandoned cars until he reaches Xibalba, a town populated by a group of misfit children, apparently the last people left on Earth. While on the island, Martin and his father had built a complex, Rube Goldbergesque machine of unknown purpose: "The less you understand, the better," Martin's father says. "It's a powerful thing, and if it's misused, the results could be devastating.' " Martin now believes that the machine is a spaceship and that by building another one he and the other children can find their missing families. In reality, the machine is something much odder. Owing as much to dreams as to science fiction, this strange tale can be riveting, but its quirky characters are sometimes difficult to believe in as young adolescents, and its dénouement feels contrived. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 7 Up--Martin Maple lives on a remote island with his father, who spends his time constructing a mysterious machine. When the man doesn't return from his journey to find its final piece, Martin ventures off island and discovers that not only has his father vanished, but so has nearly everyone else in the world. Eventually he comes to Xibalba and meets other eccentric and lonely young people who have survived the unknown event: bossy Darla, who drives a monster truck; cynical Lane, who builds elaborate mobile sculptures; and mysterious Nigel, who claims to talk to animals and is regarded by the inhabitants of Xibalba as a prophet. Convinced that his father's machine can set things to rights, Martin works to reconstruct it while, in true Lord of the Flies fashion, tensions and secrets start to erode the workings of the makeshift society. Slow to build, Starmer's science-fiction fable ultimately becomes gripping and haunting as the characters explore matters of faith, leadership, and responsibility, culminating in a reflective, bittersweet conclusion worthy of Neil Gaiman.--Christi Esterle, Parker Library, CO[Page 122]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.