HMH. Apr. 2021. 432p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780358244431.
Gr 9 Up–The 100 meets Rey from Star Wars in this apocalyptic Western. Delta and the rest of her Dead River pack are trapped between staying at their waterless river and trying to move in the fatally hot summer months. Returning from a trip to a neighboring settlement, Delta discovers raiders have kidnapped much of her pack and murdered the rest. Determined to save her family and get her revenge, Delta has the ultimate bargaining chip: a map to the Verdant, a lush and lost oasis, is branded onto her back. Bowman’s newest dystopia features complicated characters fighting a high stakes war against an unforgiving world—and each other. Dystopian fans will love the mix of familiar Old World tech the heroes stumble upon during their quest across the desert. Bowman’s deft hand manages to make both elaborate backstory and lore passages something to look forward to, as Delta and her childhood friend Asher try to find the Verdant. The story’s pacing never flags and YA readers suffering from series fatigue will enjoy this standalone’s premise and world-building. While there is diversity mentioned in the large cast, the main characters’ skin colors are not defined.
VERDICT Bowman sets high expectations and meets them in this standalone worthy of all YA shelves. An impeccably crafted dystopian full of beloved tropes and a generous helping of plot twists.

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