Welcome to the Wasteland. Where all the adults are long gone, and now no one lives past the age of nineteen. Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan’s post-apocalyptic debut is the first of a trilogy in which everyone is forced to live under the looming threat of rampant disease and brutal attacks by the Variants —- hermaphroditic outcasts that live on the outskirts of Prin. Esther thinks there’s more to life than toiling at harvesting, gleaning, and excavating, day after day under the relentless sun, just hoping to make it to the next day. But then Caleb, a mysterious stranger, arrives in town, and Esther begins to question who she can trust. As shady pasts unravel into the present and new romances develop, Caleb and Esther realize that they must team together to fight for their lives and for the freedom of Prin.
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published March 26th 2013 by HarperTeen
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where resources are scarce, rain is poison, and hermaphrodites are outcasts, Wasteland takes a different look at a future world in which humans do not survive past 19 years of age. They marry young and have children, then spend their days foraging and making contributions to The Source. The Source controls the food and utilities that they all need to survive, making them dependent upon it.
The variants are outcasts who attack the others, especially while they forage for The Source. Esther thinks there are better ways to live her life than working all the time; she has secretly made friends with Skar, a variant, and they spend most of their time shirking duties and exploring.
There are a variety of characters both outside and inside The Source that we get to know. Their society is on the brink of change—most likely for the worse—and everyone is searching for a way to live longer. There is not a whole lot of world building in Wasteland, but just enough to get the feel of this story. As the series continues, I hope to find out more about the events in the time before this book takes place.
When a mysterious stranger shows up, Esther is immediately curious about what he is looking for, and soon they join forces to fight for change. The pace of the story picks up once Caleb arrives, and the secret of what is really going on starts to be revealed.
What I loved about the story is that even though it covers ideas that are similar to those in books that I love, there are some unusual twists that make Wasteland unique. It gave me insight into how things could be different, especially with the hermaphrodite aspect. It doesn’t play a huge role in the first book, but I found it to be a very curious and unique aspect of the story, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
I recommend this book to lovers of survival stories and post-apocalyptic fiction.