The Electric Kingdom

Viking. Feb. 2021. 432p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593202227.
Gr 7 Up–The world has been devastated by Flu Flies, leaving small groups of survivors to make their way without technology or organizing institutions. Nico, an 18-year-old with “watery white skin,” lives in a barricaded farmhouse in New Hampshire while Kit, an art-loving 12-year-old with “pale white skin,” finds himself living in a theater with his mother and adopted siblings, Lakie and Monty—Black twins left orphaned after a swarm attack. Nico, Kit, Lakie, and Monty hear of a haven safe from the Flies and set out on a journey that will force them to consider the tensions among science, faith, and the nature of time itself. Arnold’s fourth novel uses intricate storytelling to explore a postapocalyptic world through the eyes of teens who search for meaning in the midst of loss and disconnection. He weaves together rich language and satisfying plot turns while drawing on elements of science fiction and fantasy. His characters are warm and fully realized, and for anyone who has lived through 2020, the book’s themes will feel all too real.
VERDICT An absorbing read with well-realized characters and beautiful writing, this novel will appeal to readers of science fantasy such as N.K. Jemisin’s “Broken Earth” trilogy.

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