Middle Grade Review: The Scavengers by Michael Perry

thescavengers_perry_harpercollinsI was super excited to receive an uncorrected proof of The Scavengers by Michael Perry based on the premise (12 year old girl living outside of the post-apocalyptic BubbleCities who has to survive alone while she searches for her family after they go missing) and the cover art. I had been looking forward to this book’s publication (9/2/14) since first seeing it announced, mostly due to the fact that it is about a fierce tween girl in a dystopian world that might be suitable to share with my own fierce tween niece. I was not disappointed, and I am looking forward to sharing it with her.

First off, Maggie (aka Ford Falcon) is a reliable narrator. Not something a reader always finds when a book is written in the first person. My only complaint about Maggie as the narrator is that she is not always believable as a 12 year old, though this can be justified by the fact that the only people she has had to converse with are adults (her younger brother’s ability to communicate is greatly affected by an unidentified condition), and her only reading materials being Little House on the Prairie and Emily Dickinson.

Some of the things I appreciated about this middle school novel are the strong female protagonist, adult stupidity not being the impetus for a child’s storyline, the lack of inappropriate language (swearing is written as “blankety blank” in a few places), the lack of “mean girl” behavior, the realistic setting and believable circumstances. I also appreciated the violence not being overly graphic, and that the GreyDevils were not zombies, as I initially feared when reading.

There are a few issues with the book, besides Maggie/Ford Falcon’s occasional word choices being too advanced for her age. Some are personal opinion and some are concerns:
The state of the world’s seasons did not seem consistent.
There are possible triggers for children who have been exposed to addiction issues.
Some disrespectfulness towards adults, though they are the “bad guys.”
On the back of my uncorrected proof, it lists the grade range for readers as 3-7. Due to the complexity of some of the language in the book, this is not a just right read (there I go with my teacher-speak) for third graders unless they are reading above their grade level.
The extensive use of spoonerisms and pig latin by one character also increases the reading difficulty of this book and can be a bit annoying.

When adversity strikes, Maggie forces herself to toughen up, make difficult choices and take charge of her own situation. She does not, however, reject the assistance of friends. These, and the other positive aspects mentioned above, are the main reasons I am now looking forward to sharing this book with my 11 year old niece, and I plan to add her thoughts to this review once she has read, and we have discussed, the book.

The Scavengers by Michael Perry | HarperCollins, Sept. 2014 | Hardback, 336 pgs
This review refers to an uncorrected proof copy received courtesy of the Goodreads First Reads program and the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, in exchange for an honest review.  Originally posted on GoodReads and BookLikes with a rating of 3.5/5 stars.




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