Author: Joshua Bellin
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: September 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In a future world of dust and ruin, fourteen-year-old Querry Genn struggles to recover the lost memory that might save the human race. Querry is a member of Survival Colony Nine, one of the small, roving groups of people who outlived the wars and environmental catastrophes that destroyed the old world. The commander of Survival Colony Nine is his father, Laman Genn, who runs the camp with an iron will. He has to–because heat, dust, and starvation aren’t the only threats in this ruined world. There are also the Skaldi. Monsters with the ability to infect and mimic human hosts, the Skaldi appeared on the planet shortly after the wars of destruction. No one knows where they came from or what they are. But if they’re not stopped, it might mean the end of humanity. Six months ago, Querry had an encounter with the Skaldi–and now he can’t remember anything that happened before then. If he can recall his past, he might be able to find the key to defeat the Skaldi. If he can’t, he’s their next victim.
For a post-apocalyptic survival novel, Survival Colony 9 wasn’t bad at all. This is an easy story to follow, it’s thrilling, and it’s got a likeable protagonist. Querry’s past is a mystery that haunts this novel. Like Querry, we know nothing of life before the accident where he lost any memory he had of the past. We get to know this colony as he does. The survivors that make up Colony 9 are rugged and enduring people. They have little to live for, yet they find a way to survive. Their determination drives this novel forward. Their will to live is intense as they battle a harsh wasteland wrought with fierce heat, crippling draught, and nightmarish creatures as Skaldi. No one survives an attack from these horrors and the Colony is as much on the run from the harsh elements around them as they are from these creatures.
If you’re looking for a good YA novel that focuses on action and mystery, this one is for you. The Colony is constantly fighting to stay alive, but there is so much unknown in this strange world they inhabit. I thought that the world the lived in was pretty well constructed. It was easy to imagine this vast desert territory with it’s endless sand, sluggish river, and lightening-quick rainstorms. It is a setting for the trials and hardships that these characters witness each day.
I struggled with the story’s characterization. I had a sense that there were more people in the colony than were mentioned, but only key characters were mentioned, so it’s difficult to get a sense of the colony’s size. This also means that a reader really only gets a vague sense of who the characters are. In many cases we cannot no the motivations behind why the characters act the way they do. Querry is a great tabula rasa through which we view the story. As I mentioned, we learn as he does. But he’s kind of a dud of a person. I found him vague and inconsequential. He has few definable traits to make him an individual, as is the case with most of the characters in the colony. Querry could have been anyone. Although he was fourteen, I wouldn’t have placed him that young at all if I had to make a guess. The author’s struggle with characterization is a weak point in the story, but it doesn’t completely take away from the intensity of the place and situation. Survival Colony 9 is still a solid interpretation of a post-apocalyptic world.