Riverhead (Putnam), Sep 16 2010, $25.95
His parents take him from Chicago to live in a small Indiana college town when the flu pandemic strikes leaving Cole Vining an orphan. Much of the world’s population dies from this horrific disease.
Youngsters like Cole become the rapture children sent to cold orphanages to live. Pastor Wyatt takes Cole and other children with him to Salvation City, a closed Christian monastery. There he is to be indoctrinated in the way of the religious fervor of the survivors starting with Wyatt and his wife Tracy. Having been raised by secular liberals before the flu killed his parents; Cole struggles to fit in the new world order.
This is a strong young adult post-apocalyptic thriller starring a fascinating protagonist who from the start has issues with his new world though grateful he has been lifted out of the chaos; for instance the use of euphemisms with the Pastor saying passed and his late mom saying died. The story line focuses on Cole who has little time to grieve his loss as he is caught up in the survivor scenario including guilt and hypocrisy while being yanked in the opposite direction from his parental nurturing. Readers of all ages, but especially teens will appreciate this thought provoking look at a utopian Eden created in the image of Pastor Wyatt.