Sarah Daniels fills her breathtaking futuristic YA thriller with hard-hitting social and political commentary to create a dystopia that seems eerily possible.
Forty years ago, when "war broke out in Europe" and biological warheads were deployed, Esther's grandparents were ticket holders aboard the cruise ship Arcadia. The captain "managed to squeeze on hundreds more who were fleeing for their lives" as the Virus spread. It's now 2094 and although there is no trace of the Virus "in living memory," most of the Stranded are confined to the ship. Sixteen-year-old, "pale"-skinned Esther is training to be a medic but, when she's forced to treat a member of the rebellion, her plans derail. Impulsive, brown-skinned Nik was shot by security forces while pulling an illegal prank and he's put in jeopardy the rebels' mission to escape the ship. Esther, now aware of the revolutionaries' plans, must decide whether she will take on a dangerous undercover mission to help the rebels or stay the course as a medic.
Daniels's riveting futuristic debut uses multiple points of view and careens along at a breakneck pace. Her well-drawn characters grapple with issues of corruption and betrayal, duty and loyalty, as they navigate life aboard this fascinating yet truly dysfunctional ship. A high-stakes ending wraps up the episode, but a planned sequel promises there will be more Arcadia excitement in the future. --Lynn Becker, reviewer, blogger, and children's book author