FICTION

The Light at the Bottom of the World

Disney-Hyperion. Oct. 2019. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781368036887.
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Gr 7 Up–The year: 2099. The place: London. Only, this is a London completely unfamiliar to readers. After a devastating disaster 65 years ago, the entire world has been left under a thousand feet of water. All of surviving humanity has adjusted as well as possible, living inside air-tight homes, driving submarine vehicles, and hoping for the day they can return to the surface world. Enter 16-year-old Leyla McQueen, a British Muslim of Afghan descent desperately fighting to have her scientist father freed from a government prison. So when she wins a coveted spot in the London Submersible Marathon, the grand prize of which is the champion’s greatest desire, Leyla knows this is her best shot. But when the events of the race lead to an adventure greater than Leyla could ever have imagined, will she be prepared to do whatever it takes to see her father again? Shah’s debut is a fast-paced masterpiece from start to finish. Readers will fall in love with passionate, persistent Leyla as well as her secretive, swoon-worthy companion Ari. While the tropes of dystopian fiction—corrupt government, fear of the unknown—will be easily recognizable by fans of the genre, Shah has skillfully shaped a gorgeous world unlike any those fans have seen before. But be forewarned: the book ends on a jaw-dropping cliff-hanger, so a sequel is presumably forthcoming.
VERDICT An #OwnVoices title for fans of Rhoda Belleza, Amie Kaufman, and Roshani Chokshi. Highly recommended.

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