Ages 14 and up
Random House UK, 2006, 0-385-61051-3
Sol lives in a metal, glass, and concrete city called Ash Harbour which is protected from a freezing planet-wide ice age by a thick dome of glass. The city is kept going by a massive human powered machine. Many of the people who live in Ash Harbour think that their city is the only one left on the planet, that they are the last survivors of the human race.
When Sol’s father fails to come home for several days Sol begins to worry. Then the authorities tell Sol that his father is missing and is suspected of committing a murder. Sol’s life is complicated even further when he is grabbed by a group of men and threatened with torture if he doesn’t tell them where his father is. Luckily help arrives just in time. A man called Maslow arrives on the scene, saves Sol, and whisks the young man away to safety. Maslow explains that Sol’s father, Gregor, asked him to keep an eye on Sol.
As Sol tries to keep hidden from his unknown pursuers, he becomes more and more determined to find out what happened to his father. He begins to believe that something sinister is going on in Ash Harbour. Why is machine which makes life possible showing signs of failing? Why are so many accidents happening around the city? Who are the Clockmakers and why are they pursuing him?
With the help of his unconventional friend Cleo, Sol desperately tries to find out the secrets that lie beneath the surface of his world before he, like so many others before him, disappears into the workings of The Machine.
In this absorbing, often disturbing book, the author creates a world where life is completely different from the one that we know today. It is a harder world with few comforts and the future offers little hope for the young people who live there. Sol and Cleo discover that their world is not what they thought it was and they cannot help wondering if they are going to survive this difficult and uncertain time. Young adult readers will find this story to be very thought-provoking and by the end of the book they will appreciate how lucky they are not to be living in a place like Ash Harbor.
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