Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Not Dead Which Will Not Die

Review: Foreverland Is Dead by Tony Bertauski


The second book in my Foreverland Boxed set begins where the first story left off, so if you haven't read The Annihilation of Foreverland (reviewed earlier as Islands Are for Experiments), this review will contain spoilers.

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Annihilation was about boys living the life of Riley on a paradise-island, having fun and exploring powers in the dreamy fun-world of Foreverland. In drastic contrast, Dead opens on a mountain camp full of girls, concentration-camp thin, with shaved heads and absent memories.

Most of them, anyway. One blond girl wakes, not on an iron cot in a freezing bare barracks room, but in a well-furnished brick mansion a few dozen yards away. The girls have few clues to where they are and what has happened to them. They set out to harvest food from the sparse garden (Who planted it?), avoid the dead woman they find in the woods (Who is she? Where was she going when she died?), and prepare for the coming winter with the grudging assistance of the favored blond child, who passes them a trickle of food from the stores in the house. 

They have little time to figure out why they are trapped in this dreary place, why they cannot go beyond the foggy grey boundaries of their camp. 

When an old man and his bully bodyguard show up, time runs out for the girls. They have to find a way to escape.

The "creep factor" in the second novel is more subdued than in the first. It mostly comes from the reader's knowledge that this place is somehow related to the island Foreverland experiment, from feeling that the girls' dire living conditions are their equivalent of the periodic tortures that let the boys enter Foreverland. Also from knowing that, regardless of what Reed, Danny Boy and Zin thought, Foreverland is obviously still operating somewhere.