Thursday, August 22, 2013

Restoring Harmony, by Joelle Anthony

A friend of mine on the Sunshine Coast lent me this book by a local BC author. She thought I would enjoy Restoring Harmony because I'm also writing a post-apocalyptic novel set in the Pacific Northwest. If by "enjoy" she meant "be freakishly envious because Joelle Anthony did such a good job I may as well just quit now," then she was right! Here's what I said on Goodreads:

Not your typical dystopian YA: this one is actually plausible. Set in the near future in the Pacific Northwest, it isn't an epic save-the-world story; it's about characters trying to live their lives while the society we know slowly crumbles around them. What makes it a four-star book is that I cared about the characters. All of them. They had believable motivations and did the right things for the wrong reasons or the wrong things for the right reasons, like real people. The plot hangs together well, too: starts out simple but builds on realistic complexities to an exciting finish.

The premise seems quiet enough: Molly goes to Oregon to bring her grandfather back to her home on a Gulf Island, but she runs out of money so once she gets there she can't get home. And her grandfather isn't very happy to see her. The interest of the book is in the character development. Molly is an engaging narrator, practical and competent, but way out of her sphere of experience. The world beyond her pastoral island isn't a particularly nice place, and she trusts people she shouldn't trust. Her grandparents are running out of food, and their neighbour is in deep with organized crime. There's a good-looking guy who wants to help but he won't even tell her his name.

I loved the music in the book (Molly brings her violin with her); I liked the tentative, problematic romance; I liked the way the collapsing society brings out the best and worst in everyone. I also loved the humour. The final escape-to-the-border scene is quite delicious.

This is a post-apocalyptic story for those who like Anne of Green Gables and family drama and heroines who don't have to kick anyone's butts in order to be kick-butt.

A fresh blueberry tart with a dollop of whipped cream.

Also, my first Canadian book in this year's Canadian Book Challenge. (I'm going to do much better this year . . . I'm off to such a great start . . .) Check out John Mutford's blog for tons of Canadian book recommendations.

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