The Big Dark

4 CDs. 3:51 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. $29.99. ISBN 9780545909297.
Gr 3–7—Citizens of the remote hamlet of Harmony, NH, gather on a frigid New Year's Eve to watch the northern lights. During the spectacular show, all power goes out. Not just electricity, but internal combustion engines and carbon-zinc, alkaline, and lithium batteries—no generators, no flashlights, no cell phones, no cars, nothing. The local science teacher explains that a solar flare is to blame (NASA says it's not impossible). Harmony tries to organize under the questionable leadership of its one police officer, until the patriarch of a survivalist clan begins wreaking havoc on the town. When it becomes clear that his mother is about to run out of medicine, Charlie sets off on a 50-mile ski trip on which he confronts wild animals and almost as wild humans. Despite some scary and suspenseful situations, generosity and purity of spirit do prevail. Michael Crouch adeptly paces the fast-moving story and varies voices among the characters.
VERDICT The all-too-real topic and relatable protagonist make for an engaging adventure tale. ["Though the themes of racism, hate, and the danger of fear are desperately needed in conversations with the intended age group, this novel only scratches the surface": SLJ 11/15 review of the Scholastic book.]

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