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Posted September 24, 2013
Read on September 22, 2013 Book Info Paperback Expected pub
Read on September 22, 2013
Expected publication: October 1st 2013 by Scholastic Press (first published September 24th 2013)
ISBN 0545512247 (ISBN13: 9780545512244)
Source:Goodreads First Reads ARC
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USA TODAY bestselling author Jeff Hirsch once again creates a futuristic world with stunning, dramatic realism.
A civil war rages between the Glorious Path--a militant religion based on the teachings of a former US soldier--and what's left of the US government. Fifteen-year-old Callum Roe and his younger brother, James, were captured and forced to convert six years ago. Cal has been working in the Path's dog kennels, and is very close to becoming one of the Path's deadliest secret agents. Then Cal befriends a stray dog named Bear and kills a commander who wants to train him to be a vicious attack dog. This sends Cal and Bear on the run, and sets in motion a series of incredible events that will test Cal's loyalties and end in a fierce battle that the fate of the entire country rests on.
A couple of things stick out in my mind about this book immediately, the first is that if we ever do have another war on US soil that divides America than we face a horror that I hope to never live to see and the second thing that cemented the story's appeal was the inclusion of Bear as I am an animal lover who finds great joy in reading about the bond between man and his best friend with all the conflicting emotions created by the pitfalls faced in this type of apocalyptic world.
As we follow the choices Cal makes the tension builds unbearably as he faces obstacle after obstacle in his quest to escape both the Path soldiers as well as the members of the US Federal Army so that he can make his way home to Ithaca New York.
Having committed a murder that brands him as a traitor to the followers of Nathan Hill's religious militia Callum Roe had no choice but to go on the run, the little mixed breed stray that was a secondary catalyst for his actions at his side for a good part of his journeys. It broke my heart when Cal discovered that he could not convince James to abandon his loyalties to "The Glorious Path" having to leave him instead and strike out alone with just Bear for companionship.
The journey that the author describes is both one of the mind as well as the body for Cal, he learns that there are still compassionate people amidst the population that is sprinkled with those that have quickly learned the way best to survive is to look out for themselves no matter what the cost to others and he also learns that the 6 years he has spent with his captors has not stolen his own ability to feel compassion for others either. The hardships are many, just struggling to make their way on foot is difficult in and of itself but having to find water and sustenance to stay alive would have defeated Cal completely if not for Bear's keen nose for finding even the most meager of water sources.
This book has a fierce beauty underlying a brutal reality that we may very well be facing in some unknown time in the future, the beauty is the unbreakable nobility of man's spirit when faced with his worst imagined nightmares and the brutal reality is the fact that no matter how much we pray for peace between us and our fellow man there will always be conflicting opinions on the same subject that lead to discord at some point.
This is a story that is filled with contradictions, a story of choices made, sides chosen, the bond of blood and ties that go beyond that of family and most of all it is a look at what may seem to be simply another futuristic tale of doom and gloom but if our world keeps on the way it is the make believe future may become a reality sooner than later.
[ Goodreads First Reads ARC won in exchange for honest review]
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Posted December 18, 2013
Posted October 11, 2013
Took My Breath Away
Be prepared to get up close and personal with what life can be like for the masses during a modern day civil war. The Darkest Path by Jeff Hirsch follows young Cal as he struggles to make sense of the war around him, while trying to get both himself and his brother across enemy lines and hundreds of miles to return to the family they have not seen in six years. Under a charismatic leader, an army of religious fanatics have risen up against a less-than-perfect American government and one by one states are falling to one side or the other. Corruption runs rampant, neither side is what they seem, and brutality and death are everywhere.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Fifteen year old Cal sees things beyond anything his worst nightmare can conjure as a captive follower of the Path. The last straw comes when he saves a stray dog who steals his heart and becomes a symbol of normalcy for Cal in a world where he has been used, abused and seen as less than human. His desire to “go home” with his younger brother fuels him on as his journey crosses paths with both the good and evil in the world. Will there be anything left of Cal’s humanity? How much loss can he withstand? If he makes it “home” what will he discover? Will brother be pitted against brother? How does Cal decide which side is really The Darkest Path?
Jeff Hirsch has built a brutal reality for his characters where there is no definitive line between good and evil, forcing his characters to choose what they consider to be the lesser of the two evils. He spares nothing in creating a sense of hopelessness and never eases up on the tension or the action in what is only a small piece of the turmoil taking place. Even the once strong are crumbling, yet through it all, as Cal’s character develops and grows, he finds moments of peace, loyalty and inner strength far beyond his years, risking himself for others.
With crisp writing and attention to detail, Jeff Hirsch has created a fearsome reality that evokes total emotional involvement for the reader. I was simultaneously proud of Cal and shredded by some of his actions as he was forced to make hard and unselfish decisions to give up what he held most dear on his journey to discover what he needs most, to face reality, hold the past close and move on toward the future.
I received a review copy from Scholastic Press in exchange for my honest review.
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