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by Marcus Sedgwick

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Imagine that a few years from now England is covered by water, and Norwich is an island.

Zoe, left behind in the confusion when her parents escaped, survives there as best she can. Alone and desperate among marauding gangs, she manages to dig a derelict boat out of the mud and gets away to Eels Island. But Eels Island, whose raggle-taggle

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Imagine that a few years from now England is covered by water, and Norwich is an island.

Zoe, left behind in the confusion when her parents escaped, survives there as best she can. Alone and desperate among marauding gangs, she manages to dig a derelict boat out of the mud and gets away to Eels Island. But Eels Island, whose raggle-taggle inhabitants are dominated by the strange boy Dooby, is full of danger too.

The belief that she will one day find her parents spurs Zoe on to a dramatic escape in a story of courage and determination that leads to an unexpected and touching conclusion. FLOODLAND has a powerful and emotive theme, handled with warmth and humanity.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
British illustrator Sedgwick's futuristic first novel begins with an interesting premise--that global warming has caused the seas to rise, submerging whole sections of England--but, unfortunately, the story does not fully succeed. Young Zoe, left behind when a rescue boat takes her parents from Norwich to higher ground, escapes alone in a small rowboat. She lands on the Island of Eels, where tribes struggle for precious food and water. There Zoe meets some predictable characters, such as the mad seer, William Blake; the corrupt leader, Doobie, with an Achilles heel (he can't swim); and the tough boy with a soft interior, Munchkin. Her own character is inconsistent; she is alternately spunky and wary of everyone around her, brave then easily cowered or swayed by the Eels (e.g., referring to Doobie, "She had caught herself liking him"). When Zoe and Munchkin escape to the mainland, the author abandons the initial message about the earth's fragility in favor of an upbeat and unlikely ending, as Zoe and Munchkin find evidence that the floods have abated. The final reunion scene seems more cloying than believable. Despite some page-turning chapters, Zoe and her story lack the credibility to sustain readers through the contradictory themes and sometimes unimaginative prose ("The thought of home stabbed her like a knife" or "a creeping fear began to seep into her"). Ages 8-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Slowly as the sea kept rising people moved to smaller and smaller islands. Now ten-year-old Zoe, accidentally separated from her parents, sets out in a small rowboat in a desperate attempt to find her family and a more hospitable home. Upon landing at the Island of Eels she finds the island under the control of a gang of teens lead by the tyrant Dooby. Munchkin, a small and quiet boy, is immediately seen by Zoe and her only hope for an ally in her escape from the threats of Dooby. The only adult on the island in one mad William who in his lucid moments tells her stories of a better land. Zoe must decide if these are just the ramblings of a crazy man or clues that a far better world does exist. In the flimsy rowboat, Zoe and Munchkin set off on the vast sea for a harrowing and almost fatal journey. This first novel, with its underlying message of the effects of global warming, is an exciting survival story replete with hostile gangs, hazardous seas, and cautious friendships. While one might have wished for more detail and character motivation and development, it is till a stirring read. The enticing cover art will draw readers in and there is enough tension and drama to hold them. 2001, Delacorte, $15.95. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Marcus Sedgwick's book (Delacorte, 2001) takes place in the not-so-distant future when global warming has caused the polar ice caps to melt. The resulting rising ocean and river waters have made land scarce and turned once huge landmasses into little islands. As the island that Zoe is living on continues to lose land to flooding waters, she realizes that she must try to escape to the West where she hears that there is still a mainland. This unique story is narrated by British actress Amanda Root, probably best known to American audiences for her role as Anne Elliot in the movie Persuasion. Root uses a variety of British accents to bring Zoe and the assorted characters that she meets to life. Her strong reading performance makes listeners really feel Zoe's fear and desperation as she searches to find a safe haven. The ending of the story is a little too pat and implausible, but Root's performance and the overall fresh and exciting plot make this audiobook a worthy purchase.-Lori Craft, Itasca Community Library, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
What price global warming? In Sedgwick's near-future debut, only a few high spots, with small groups of ragged, desperate inhabitants, remain above the waves that cover what used to be England. From one such island, and with no map or supplies, young Zoe sets out in a small boat to find the parents from whom she was separated in the last, panicky evacuation. Though captured for a time by a sullen band of young people sheltering in a vast, ruined cathedral and presided over by a ruthless teenaged dictator, Zoe makes her escape into a wild storm, and catches up with her parents at last. Despite the happy ending, and late, feeble attempts at gallows humor, the author has crafted a dreary tale. He's incorporated elements from Lord of the Flies, references to William Blake à la David Almond's Skellig (1999), which are too oblique to have any real meaning for most young readers, and a vast, gloomy setting that never takes on a strong enough presence to add atmosphere, much less any sort of metaphorical resonance. Fans of the post-holocaust sci-fi of John Christopher may be drawn to this, but it is too plodding to hold them for long. (Fiction. 11-13)

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Product Details

Hachette Children's
Publication date:
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
9 - 11 Years

Read an Excerpt

Zoe ran. Harder than she had ever run in her life. Her feet pounded through the deserted streets of derelict buildings. Somewhere, not far behind, she could hear the gang coming after her. It felt as if her heart would burst, but she didn't slow down. She'd been planning to leave the island for a long time but had been putting it off. It was a big decision to set out to sea in a tiny rowboat. Now she had no choice.

Before, no one had bothered her. Zoe was a loner. Most of the people left on Norwich hung around together in groups, but she preferred to be on her own. It was safer that way, because you never knew whom you could trust.

Somehow, someone had found out about the boat she'd been hiding. A boat was an escape route, a way to get away from Norwich, which got smaller every year, as the sea kept on rising. It didn't matter that there could only be room for two people at most in her boat. Others had joined in the chase, and now a mob of about fifteen people was hot on her heels. There was only one way out; to get to her boat before they got to her. So she ran on, while her body screamed for her to stop.

"Get back here!" someone yelled at her, though they couldn't see her.

It wasn't far to the little shed where she'd hidden Lyca, her boat. A couple more streets of derelict shops to where what was left of the city fell away into the sea. If the sea hadn't come she might have been shopping here herself, with her parents perhaps. From much practice she squashed the thought of her parents as soon as it started, and kept on running.

Just before she rounded a corner, she heard more shouts from behind. They had seen her.


"Come on!"shouted another voice. "Get her!"

She made the corner, but her feet slipped from under her on the wet ground. She went sprawling and slid clumsily in the mud. She started to panic badly and made a mess of getting up again. She had dropped her pack as she fell, but there was no time to pick it up.

The sound of running feet came closer. Another two seconds and they would be around the corner. She got up and practically threw herself over a wall. She landed awkwardly, but she'd won a little more time. She was in a graveyard. It led away down a hill to where a small brick shed stood near the water's edge. Once it had contained all the equipment for looking after the graveyard, but now it contained Zoe's boat. The previous night she had rowed around from the warehouse where she had found the boat and fixed it. The old building had been unsafe when she'd discovered it and had been getting worse. She had decided to find a new place to keep her boat, and the shed seemed ideal.

In the dark she had dragged the boat the short distance from the water to the shed. It had been very hard work. At night she hadn't noticed the deep ruts the boat's keel had made in the sodden grass. In daylight, even in her mad rush, they were obvious. She would be lucky if no one had already found it.

"Lyca," Zoe panted as she opened the shed door, "please be here, Lyca."

It was all right. The boat was still there waiting for her.

Pulling it across the grass, and then into the water, she dared to look behind her for the first time. Her stomach twisted with fear. The gang were storming down the hill, weaving in and out of the crumbling gravestones. Zoe moved faster. She clambered aboard and put the oars out, then started to pull. They were at the water now, and though one or two stopped, the rest came splashing madly after her.

"Take me with you!"

"Come back! We won't hurt you. Just take us with you!"

Zoe could see their eyes clearly. She saw fear. But since she'd lost her parents, she'd made it a rule not to trust anyone. Zoe had heard people say they'd lost someone, when really they meant they had died. In Zoe's case, "lost" meant exactly that. It was still unbelievable, and so stupid.

She looked at the crowd in the water again. If she went back, there'd be a fight over her boat, and she wouldn't have a chance. She rowed on, pulling harder, even though she was safely away.

She watched as the people slowly dragged themselves out of the water and waded back to the shore. Natasha was there too. Her blond hair hung wet across her eyes, her clothes were soaking, but she didn't care. Even from this distance, Zoe could see the anger on Natasha's face. That hurt most of all. Natasha was the closest thing she had to a friend. Zoe used to see her when the supply ships came. Then they stopped coming. After that she saw her sometimes at the allotments, when she went to put some work in to earn food. They would only have a little chat, but it was enough to keep Zoe from cracking up. But now the allotments had sunk into chaos too.

Zoe suddenly remembered their conversation the last time they'd met.

"What've you been doing?" Natasha had asked suspiciously. That made Zoe nervous. It wasn't long ago that they'd laughed and joked with each other, but something had changed between them.

"I've . . . nothing. I haven't been doing anything."

She had been about to tell Natasha about her boat, and her plans to escape, but had decided not to. Maybe Natasha had guessed? From something Zoe had let slip? It didn't matter now. The crowd stood quietly, watching her as she rowed away.

Zoe didn't feel scared of them anymore.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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