Two years ago, I reviewed The Roar, by Emma Clayon--a fine example of that rare thing, a solidly middle-grade science fiction/dystopia, that I recommended in particular to "boys who love video games that involve blowing up space ships, who also care about the environment." It ended with much of the larger story still untold, and judging from the number of people who visited my blog wondering when the sequel, there will be lots of readers eagerly pouncing on The Whisper, which was just released (Chicken House, Feb 1, 2012, 320 pages). The Whisper picks up right where The Roar ended, and shouldn't be read as a stand-alone.
The basic premise of the books is that humanity has been divided into billions of have-nots, crammed into flooded cities of misery behind a high-tech wall, while a very few enjoy the natural beauties of a rehabilitated earth that those in the city have no idea even exists. But from those cities, a greedy manipulator named Mal Gorman assembled an army of children, including some with mutant powers, planning to use them to claim the unspoiled regions of the world for himself (or at least, a nice piece of it). And his two most prized mutant children are the telepathic twins, Mika and Ellie.
He underestimates them. Little does Gorman know that Mika and Ellie are planning to lead his army to free those imprisoned in the cities, and bring about more equitable age. And little does he know that this army is united telepathically by the Whisper...allowing them unprecentend cooperation and coordination. With the help of lots of cool technology, and their mutant powers (along with the various powers of their mutant cohort), Mika and Ellie begin to fight back.
The Whisper should please fans of the first book--the action and tension (and cool sci fi elements) of that one are here as well. Although the struggle seemed to me at times to be too easy for Mika, Ellie, and co., it still made for interesting. and even, at times, thought-provoking reading. There's room for a sequel--how to deal with the logistical nightmare of resettling billions of people--but by the end of The Whisper,things have reached a satisfactory stopping point.
I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend these to adult fans of sci fi distopias (I didn't find them complex enough for that, though there the details of the plot and the world-building were interesting, especially the descriptions of the drowned city, with high-rises built over flooded rivers), but for middle grade readers, I think they make an excellent introduction to the genre.
disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher