The 13th Continuum

Turner. 416 pages. $14.95.

Jennifer Brody’s debut young adult novel begins The Continuum Trilogy with a spark that, in the last few pages, ignites into a flame. This author from Roanoke, who now lives in Los Angeles, uses character, plot and setting to weave a wonderful and delightful tapestry of narrative that is split between two main characters: Myra Jackson and Aero Wright.

Before being introduced to these characters, however, Brody sets up the world in which the story takes place. She explains a destructive phenomenon called The Doom that destroys planet Earth. Except for a selected group of people shuttled to various underground, undersea and out in space colonies called Continuums, all humanity is lost. The goal of the Continuums is to allow the human race to exist in a somewhat living limbo until Earth becomes inhabitable again, so give or take a thousand years. Unfortunately, the 13 Continuums lose contact with one another as soon as they’re safe in their respective environment.

Flash forward a thousand years to Myra Jackson, who is a resident of the 13th Continuum where a fanatical religious sect called The Church of the Oracle of the Sea has taken control, and in doing so has decided to destroy all things from before The Doom. Even uttering the phrase “The Surface” will get you thrown out to sea. Myra faces the problem that an essential machine is failing, meaning oxygen will soon run out for her Continuum in one of the ocean’s trenches. The Church blames the heathens, but Myra knows better, and it prompts her to embark on her epic quest.

Meanwhile, in the second Continuum, Captain Aero Wright belongs in a world that is dictated by military protocol and custom. Being the best of his class, Aero is a born leader . His Continuum is on a quest back to Earth to see if The Doom has finally cleared. Unfortunately, before Aero and his soldiers can deploy to the surface, a coup throws Aero’s world into chaos.

Brody uses her cast of characters to paint this post-apocalyptic world with color and fervor. No detail is left to question, which allows the reader to believe in this fate for Earth. Myra Jackson is likeable and strong. Aero Wright is focused and determined. Both are perfect as role models for young readers who will pick up this book.

But characters are only as good as the plot they’re put in, and Brody’s plot is unique. It’s refreshing in a category of literature in which ideas can get exhausted and used. Young readers will enjoy the mystery and intrigue that each main character has to puzzle through to reach their final goal: Earth. Myra is easy to root for because Brody created a villainous organization to stand darkly next to Myra’s bright, smart shine. Aero is a good soldier who doesn’t get stuck in emotion, but the reader will realize along with the young captain that sometimes emotions are a good thing.

The settings for each of these characters is interesting; Brody has seamlessly created a whole new world. The best part is that because it’s the first book in a trilogy, readers are left asking complex and deep questions. This is the type of young adult novel that makes young readers think and analyze characters, their motives and the possible outcomes.

Brody writes an intelligent narrative that is entertaining as it is introspective about the human race, its fate and where we might end up. By allowing two young characters the front seat, she sets up a theme that the meek will inherit the Earth.

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