The Loudness

336p. ebook available. Sky Pony. 2015. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781632204141.
Gr 6–9—Henry Long was born soon after the first of the Tragedies—environmental disasters that are alluded to, but not fully explained—which have rendered Henry's city (reminiscent of New Orleans) largely uninhabitable. Since infancy, Henry's oddly behaving artificial heart has caused disconcerting phenomena when he is around electrical devices. When he and his music-loving dad bike from their home in the relatively safe Green Zone, through the Grey Zone into the Other Side to sell some vinyl records, Henry is amazed at the vibrant colony of artists and musicians they encounter there. The story touches on a variety of themes: ecology, power-hungry politicians, music and art as sources of hope, family loyalty, and dangerous double crossing. The plot's exciting action mounts as Henry's parents are kidnapped and he takes on the Other Siders, people from the City, pickers, federales, friends who might be enemies, and enemies who might be friends, in order to be reunited with them. There is also budding first love, as Henry and Ava (aka Freckles) adventure together. In the final chapters, superhero powers and blinding beams of light appear, paving the way for a sequel.
VERDICT A solid debut recommended for larger collections.

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