From the Publisher
Yolen and Coville, writing in alternating chapters..., explore their rich, thought provoking theme with the perfect balance of gripping adventure and understated pathos, leavened by a dollop of humor.—Booklist
Convincing and compelling.”—School Library Journal
Providing action, romance and a provocative message, this novel could well get teens talking.—Publishers Weekly
In this page-turner...the authors pull off the remarkable feat of making the sacred tangible, of delineating what it means to believe.—Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
On the heels of Paula Danziger and Ann Martin's P.S. Longer Letter Later (Children's Forecasts, Feb. 16) comes another novel (on a very different subject) co-written by a pair of popular YA authors. The two alternating narrators, Marina and Jed, are both children of religious fanatics, so-called Believers who dedicate themselves to the Reverend Beelson. The Believers have brought their families to the top of a mountain to prepare for the end of the world, only two weeks away, according to Beelson. Marina and Jed are instantly attracted to each other, even though Marina believes the world really will end and Jed thinks the whole thing is a hoax. Their different points of view--and occasional interleaved "memos" from FBI agents, excerpts from sermons, etc.--yield a multidimensional description of cult dynamics and dangers. As Beelson predicts, there is a type of Armageddon on July 27, 2000 (Marina's 14th birthday), but, as Marina sadly concludes, it is one "made by man. Not by God." Yolen's and Coville's styles and narrative voices, though different, complement each other well, so that both protagonists emerge with the same depth and the action builds smoothly and steadily. Providing action, romance and a provocative message, this novel could well get teens talking. Ages 12-up.
VOYA - Lynne Hawkins
With world-destroying comets in summer movies and in the news, and memories of David Koresh at Waco and Jim Jones in Guyana, YA readers of Armageddon Summer will find much to contemplate in this realistic and sympathetic portrayal of the evolution of a cult incident and will be drawn in by the two narrators. Marina has been brought to the mountain by her mother who, in her devotion to the charismatic Reverend Beelson, virtually abandons her children, leaving the youngest ones in Marina's care. Marina wants to be a Believer, but constantly struggles with doubt. Jed has come with his father and is not a Believer. Beelson prophesizes that the end of the world will come with fire on July 27, 2000, about three weeks away. Only the 144 disciples who have quietly fled up to Mount Weeupcut in western Massachusetts will be saved. Are all others, including Marina's dad and Jed's mom, doomed? Relatives of Beelson's followers claim that he has kidnapped their loved ones. Frightened Believers try to break into the camp as electric fences are built and armed guards are posted. Is Armageddon at hand, or only a short, fierce hell on Earth born of intolerance and fear on all sides? Yolen and Coville write successfully in tandem. Marina and Jed complement one another; one beginning to doubt her belief, the other finding belief creeping into his doubt. The two authors facilitate each character having a distinct voice--Jed and Marina react to similar circumstances in unique ways while being drawn together by those same events. With its fiery cover and suspenseful story, this book will not only attract readers, it also provides opportunites for discussion on many issues. Parental neglect, family relationships, medical care, hypocrisy, news media behavior, cults, and abortion are all part of this solid story. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-Reverend Beelson has called exactly 144 True Believers to gather on Mount Weeupcut in western Massachusetts to await the End of the World. Marina, her brothers and mother, and Jed and his father arrive on the mountain to be ready for Armageddon, which the Reverend says will occur in exactly three weeks on July 27, 2000. As the congregation prepares for the New Era, their campsite is turned into an armed fortification. As the frenzy of the Final Days swirls around them, Marina and Jed find in one another the voice of sanity and reason as they struggle to make sense of their lives and their beliefs. Marina wants desperately to believe in Reverend Beelson's vision of the world, but her own common sense and her reliance on the poems of Emily Dickinson force her to question the reality of his teachings. Jed, whose mother has run away from the family, is on the mountain because he feels he needs to protect his father, who has been devastated since his wife left. When the Day of Armageddon, though not the expected one, finally occurs, these young teens are able to get all of the children in the camp away from danger. Told in alternating voices, this gripping tale gives a close look at people caught up in events over which they have little control. Though coincidence plays some part in the plot, the book establishes a convincing and compelling scenario. The two protagonists are well developed. They find one another, fall in love in a delicate and convincing way, and ultimately survive.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA
There are no easy answers in this novel, and there are no simple characterizations; both writers are skilled enough to paint a full picture even through the narrow experience and tangled affections of their narrators. It was a lovely piece of work...
Fantasy & Science Fiction
The format is a story told from alternating viewpoints, with a few letters, radio and e-mail transcripts, and other realia thrown in is becoming familiar, but two practiced writers employ the tactic and run with it in this page-turner. Marina loves her family, her faith, and her little brothers, but she is horrified when she discovers that her mother's favorite preacher, Reverend Beelson, has just declared that the world will end on July 27, 2000; in another family, Jed accompanies his father to the mountaintop where Beelson says they will await the end of the world and prepare, as 144 of the faithful, to begin anew. They stockpile supplies, dig latrines, live in tents, and build an electrified fence to keep out everyone else. Yet these details are background to the real story of Jed and Marinaþshe is a Believer, and he is notþas they wrestle with faith, skepticism, family attachments, and their interest in each other. The authors pull off the remarkable feat of making the sacred tangible, of delineating what it means to believe. Beelson is a particularly rounded character: a man who believes that God has spoken and that he must obey. The harsher aspects of fundamentalist religion are not glossed over, and the final conflagration is right out of the headlines. Jed and Marina have epiphanies great and small, and they emerge whole, still searching for belief in its myriad aspects, and for each other. (Fiction. 12-15)