The Stranded

Sourcebooks/Fire. Jan. 2023. 464p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781728258126.
Gr 9 Up–The Arcadia, once a luxury liner, has been at sea for 40 years while warring nations launched biological warheads across the continents, killing millions. The Arcadia, along with a few other ships, were left adrift as the Federated States were established. This new nation does not want any of the ships’ refugees. Esther is training to become a medic, with the promise of a home on dry land. Nik is part of a group taking a different route: to rebel in hopes they can fight their way off and destroy the ship. Nik doesn’t want anything to do with a medic, while Esther believes associating with Nik will hurt her chances of leaving the ship for a better life. However, both of them love Esther’s sister, May, who has chosen to help Nik’s mutinous cause. Standing in their way is Hadley, who is in charge of keeping the peace on the ship—which usually means suppressing passengers’ rights and imposing controlling rules. Readers will be hooked from the beginning and will not be able to put this thriller down. The structure of the book also hooks readers into the story. The point of view seamlessly rotates among Nik, Esther, and Hadley. Readers will easily believe the dystopian setting because much of it is grounded in current-day universal truths. The ship becomes its own microcosm of the divide between the haves and the have-nots. The theme of good versus evil is prevalent throughout the story, as is the ability of power to corrupt.
VERDICT This novel will be a favorite among patrons who love dystopian fiction and will be a popular read in any high school library.

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