Review: The Scavengers by Michael Perry
Genre: Middle Grade, Survival, Science Fiction
Expected Publication: September 2, 2014
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Holes meets The City of Ember in this imaginative, captivating, and humorous middle grade novel from New York Times bestselling adult author Michael Perry.
When the world started to fall apart, the government gave everyone two choices: move into the Bubble Cities...or take their chances outside. Twelve-year-old Maggie and her family chose the latter. They live in the world that was left behind.
Deciding it’s time to grow up and grow tough, Maggie rechristens herself “Ford Falcon”—a name taken from the beat-up car she finds at a nearby junkyard. This is where Ford’s family goes to scavenge for things they can use and barter with. Thus far, they have been able to survive this brave new world by working together. But when Ford returns one day to discover her home ransacked and her family missing, she must find the strength to survive on her own and rescue her loved ones.
This wholly original tween novel combines a page-turning adventure, heartfelt family story, and triumphant journey of self-discovery. With Scavengers, Michael Perry achieves the perfect mix of humor and heart in a world where one person’s junk is another person’s key to survival.
"Just because our life is rough around the edges
doesn't mean WE have to be rough around the edges."
The Scavengers tells the story of a 12 year old girl named Maggie who lives in a junkyard with the rest of her family after a mysterious plague wipes out most of humanity.
First off, my biggest issue with the story was the language. From the cheesily named McMonPfizzler to the nonsensical banter emitting from the mouths of Toad and Ford's brother the language in this book is some of the worst I've read in quite some time and that's saying something considering the lack of swearing in the story.
Secondly, I think the ending, to put it bluntly, blew. Fords actions were selfish and really made me dislike her. She could have saved the world or done something great with her knowledge but instead she throws a tantrum, complains a lot and then winds up back where we started basically making the whole plot pointless. One could argue she chose a "Free" life but I think that was tacked on at the end to justify her decisions. Sorry, not buying it.
Lastly, I really didn't like Ford's brother. I know, I know, I shouldn't say this but if you live in a world like Ford's or really any story that involves a certain level of keeping hidden and quiet it is unbelievable to me that a Child such as Ford's brother (it never states what exactly is the cause of his behavior though we do know he experiences seizures)would be allowed such a free reign as he was. Common sense says you keep those who can't control their actions hidden away or as brutal as it sounds you let them go to save the rest. Yes, Ford's family hasn't had much trouble in the past but that doesn't mean that it was safe enough for him to be screaming through the hills like a banshee as he was.
Now although I had many, many, issues with The Scavengers I actually did enjoy a few small things.
First off, I liked the bubble cities. Sure, we don't get to see inside them in any great detail but the idea of them existing without any real nefarious purpose was kinda cool. Based on what the characters described all those inside chose to live in them, they weren't forced, it's not some lawless society filled with corrupt politicians and roving bands of murderers. In fact, it seems like if it weren't for the Adults issues they'd actually be a great place to have spent the past few years.
Another thing I really enjoyed were the Grey Devils. The best way I can describe them is Meth Heads meets 28 days later. Without their fix, they turn into brutal killing machines but if they are sated they don't pose much threat. The Grey Devils were probably the most interesting thing about the story for me although it's a shame how neutered they were to keep things kid friendly. I bet they'd be downright terrifying if they were allowed to be.
The Scavengers could have been a really great story of survival in the face of adversity had it been written for a different genre but I think trying to keep the story Middle Grade friendly hurt it in the end. Will Middle Grade readers like it? Probably, if they tend to be on the younger side of the genre. However, I think for older teens or adults it's better to pass this one by.
With that being said, I'll be rating The Scavengers by Michael Perry ★★.
*Copy reviewed provided by publisher. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way for providing them.
About the Author
Perry’s bestselling memoirs include Population 485, Truck: A Love Story, Coop, and Visiting Tom. Raised on a small Midwestern dairy farm, Perry put himself through nursing school while working on a ranch in Wyoming, then wound up writing by happy accident. He lives with his wife and two daughters in rural Wisconsin, where he serves on the local volunteer fire and rescue service and is an amateur pig farmer. He hosts the nationally-syndicated “Tent Show Radio,” performs widely as a humorist, and tours with his band the Long Beds (currently recording their third album for Amble Down Records). He has recorded three live humor albums including Never Stand Behind A Sneezing Cow and The Clodhopper Monologues, is currently finishing his first young adult novel, and can be found online at www.sneezingcow.com .