Epitaph Road

Epitaph Road

3.8 12
by David Patneaude

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2097 is a transformed world. Thirty years earlier, a mysterious plague wiped out 97 percent of the male population, devastating every world system from governments to sports teams, and causing both universal and unimaginable grief. In the face of such massive despair, women were forced to take over control of the planet—and in doing so they eliminated all of


2097 is a transformed world. Thirty years earlier, a mysterious plague wiped out 97 percent of the male population, devastating every world system from governments to sports teams, and causing both universal and unimaginable grief. In the face of such massive despair, women were forced to take over control of the planet—and in doing so they eliminated all of Earth's most pressing issues. Poverty, crime, warfare, hunger . . . all gone.

But there's a price to pay for this new "utopia," which fourteen-year-old Kellen is all too familiar with. Every day, he deals with life as part of a tiny minority that is purposefully kept subservient and small in numbers. His career choices and relationship options are severely limited and controlled. He also lives under the threat of scattered recurrences of the plague, which seem to pop up wherever small pockets of men begin to regroup and grow in numbers.

And then one day, his mother's boss, an iconic political figure, shows up at his home. Kellen overhears something he shouldn't—another outbreak seems to be headed for Afterlight, the rural community where his father and a small group of men live separately from the female-dominated society. Along with a few other suspicious events, like the mysterious disappearances of Kellen's progressive teacher and his Aunt Paige, Kellen is starting to wonder whether the plague recurrences are even accidental. No matter what the truth is, Kellen cares only about one thing—he has to save his father.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Dubious gender politics and inadequate world-building hinder this post-apocalyptic adventure by Patneaude (Thin Wood Walls). In the year 2067, a virus known as Elisha’s Bear kills almost every man on Earth. Patneaude’s story picks up 30 years later in a heavily restricted world ruled by women, free of war, crime, and poverty; men, a scarce minority, are all but powerless. Enter 14-year-old Kellen Dent, whose father lives as a fisherman in an isolated commune, and whose mother is constantly busy with the ruling Population Apportionment Council. When Kellen discovers that his father may be at risk from an intentional resurgence of Elisha’s Bear, he embarks on a quest, accompanied by his friends Sunday and Tia, to warn him. The trio’s discoveries, however, completely upset their understanding of the world. Though the characters show glimmers of depth and the premise has potential, the story never clicks into place. There’s far too much hand waving and glossing over of science, history, and culture, with obvious morals and messages painted in broad strokes. Patneaude shies away from really exploring the complex issues he raises. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
Fourteen-year-old Kellen Dent is one of the few males left on Earth after a plague in 2067 killed 97 percent of the males and left women in charge of the world. By 2097, wars have ceased, crime rates have dropped, prisons have emptied and the number of males is strictly controlled. More money now goes to health care, medical research, education and environmental concerns. However, Kellen and his friend Tia discover that the plague that killed billions of people was no natural disaster but was created on purpose, and Kellen's long-missing father is part of a movement to oppose those in power. The opening chapter describes the plague, and each chapter that follows opens with an epitaph for someone killed, effectively linking the plague year with Kellen's life 30 years later. The first-person point of view and the page-turning plot of this post-apocalyptic thriller will hook readers awaiting the final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy and provoke more than a few thoughts as well. (Science fiction. 10 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—Fourteen-year-old Kellen lives in a future in which 97 percent of the world's male population has been killed off by a virus. Women have taken over all governments and have relegated the remaining men to second-class-citizen status. Boys like Kellen have very few options. Something sinister is brewing, and an uprising of men who live independent of female rule coincides with a new outbreak of the virus. Kellen and his friends, Sunday and Tia, travel to the Olympic Peninsula to investigate and make sure that Kellen's dad, who lives in the colony, is protected from the virus. Each chapter begins with a haunting epitaph for one of the deceased. Most of these epitaphs express sorrow, but some are clearly for men who were abusive and are not missed by survivors. The story is fast paced, and the concept intriguing. The competent world-building allows readers to fully accept the book's premise. The author makes intriguing points about gender relations and the danger of polarization. The ending is satisfying in and of itself, but it does leave a potential opening for Kellen to have further adventures. This dystopian thriller will appeal to fans of the genre. Those who liked Neal Schusterman's Unwind (S & S, 2007), in particular, will appreciate the way a specific current-events issue is incorporated into a science-fiction context.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
HL720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

David Patneaude finally heeded the advice, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood," and began writing seriously (more or less) in the mid-1980s. His first novel, Someone Was Watching, was published by Albert Whitman in 1993. It was named to eight state master reading lists, winning awards in South Dakota and Utah.

Eight more books followed, the most recent of which, A Piece of the Sky, a tale of mystery and suspense, came out in April 2007. David's books have been placed on young readers' lists in more than thirty states and honored by the New York Public Library, the Society of School Librarians International, the Winnetka (Illinois) Public Library's "One Book, Two Villages" program, and the Washington State Public Library. He has taught writing at conferences, community colleges, the University of Washington, and the Institute of Children's Literature.

When he's not sitting in a coffee shop writing, or at a school or library or conference talking about writing, or out on the running trail thinking about writing, he's at home in Woodinville, Washington, with his wife, Judy, a junior high librarian. You can visit him at www.patneaude.com.

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Epitaph Road 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for my advanced English class last year in school. It was great. It provided so many intresting class convos, which were hard to get, out of my class. This, book made all the girls in the class talk out, which is also hard. The book is sexist, which really makes you think, what a world with only girls wpuld be like. Its adventurous and i finshed it wayy before i had too. The characters are solid and the book keeps you guessing whats going to happen next. I recomend this book, for its a twist on the Hunger Games and Divergent, which are also great books. This is a must read!
wordforteens More than 1 year ago
I love dystopian novels, and I had high hopes for Epitaph Road. The concept sounded fantastic - a world ruled by women? A secret the kids have to figure out? - and both covers were gorgeous. (Though I preferred the ARC.) Besides, Egmont hadn't handed me a bad book yet. And it's not that Epitaph Road was bad. I enjoyed reading it and seeing the concept unfold, and what had happened to the world. But I felt the plot line was awfully predictable. I called practically everything that would happen, and the things I didn't I had a suspicion of. I liked reading about Kellen and Tia and Sunday, but I never really connected to them. It was like listening to one of your friends tell you a story about one of their friends - you're listening, and you're interested, but you weren't really concerned with the actual person they were talking about. However, I thought the concept was excellent, and I wish we could have seen more of the world that was created. (And more of Mack the Knife!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
O.M.G! This book is great its about I think 315 pages in paperback well Kellen overhears his mother and boss talking about Elisha's Bear starting again so he goes looking for his dad -because Elisha Bear only affects men - with his two friends Sunday and Tia (I think thats her name) but its a must read!
jozey More than 1 year ago
it was the most interssting ive ever read so far lots of action if this was a movie i would totally go see it
Debbie Trainer More than 1 year ago
This was a really good book. The ending was really suprizing and good.
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13-NEMO-13 More than 1 year ago
NOrmally i wouldn't read books like this one, which is more realalistic and future based, but this book changed my mind. full of saspense, and batrail, its hard to follow at times but for the most part it has a good story line. Theres unexpected surprises all throughout the book that add to the saspense and livens up the book. Overall i thouhgt this was a great book!!!!
USFGIRL More than 1 year ago
I was pleasantly surprised with this story. I read it in two sittings and throughly enjoyed the characters and storyline. I think the plot was well thought out and well worth the time to read it. I think it would be good for pre-teens to read so they can get a little perspective and to be thankful for their lives. I am not a pre-teen but I enjoyed it anyway!