Wasteland (Wasteland Series #1)

Wasteland (Wasteland Series #1)

3.5 116
by Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan

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Fans of the Divergent and Hunger Games series will love Wasteland, the first installment of the Wasteland trilogy, by five-time Emmy Award–nominated writer Susan Kim and Edgar Award–winning Laurence Klavan. With heart-pounding thrills, this harrowing survival story is alive with action and intrigue. Welcome to the Wasteland, a post-apocalyptic


Fans of the Divergent and Hunger Games series will love Wasteland, the first installment of the Wasteland trilogy, by five-time Emmy Award–nominated writer Susan Kim and Edgar Award–winning Laurence Klavan. With heart-pounding thrills, this harrowing survival story is alive with action and intrigue. Welcome to the Wasteland, a post-apocalyptic U.S. where no one lives past the age of 19. But an early death isn’t the only doom waiting around the corner: Everyone is forced to live under the looming threat of rampant disease and brutal attacks by the variants—hermaphroditic outcasts that live on the outskirts of Prin.

Esther doesn’t care that her best friend, a variant, is considered “the enemy.” She doesn’t care that Levi, who controls the Source, is the real enemy and might send his Taser boys after her if she makes one wrong move. Then she meets Caleb, and just possibly, she might have a chance at salvation.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—In the bleak, desolate town of Prin, you get partnered at 14, are considered an elder at 17, and die at 19. Resources are scarce, and disease, especially from rainwater, is rampant. Esther, 15, doesn't fit in, and doesn't care; she hasn't partnered and consistently avoids doing the menial jobs that everyone is assigned, such as digging or searching for gasoline in abandoned cars. Her older sister, Sarah, provides for them by earning the meager food rations that her childhood friend (and now powerful leader) Levi gives people for completing their jobs. Meanwhile, the variants, tattoo and scar-covered, hermaphroditic misfits who live outside of town, are staging increasingly violent assaults against the townspeople. When newcomer Caleb, 16, appears and is able to thwart one of the attacks, the inhabitants of Prin believe he may be the key to stopping the violence. But Caleb himself is not sure, and has his own agenda. There is no subtlety here; the authors make clues about what is to come next all too obvious, and the omniscient point of view leaves nothing to the imagination. Repeated violence, death, and a single (if clinical) sex scene limit this selection to older teens, while the lack of foreshadowing and suspense will not satisfy those same readers. The ending leaves some questions, which may be explored in the next two books of the trilogy.—Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ
Kim and Klavan’s world building enticingly trickles through the brutal, fast-paced, multilayered plot, which is fueled by a sweet romance...and plenty of mysteries. Wasteland raises plenty of captivating questions and doesn’t shortchange readers on satisfying answers.
Kirkus Reviews
This trilogy opener imagines a post-apocalyptic, adult-free world in which the life expectancy is 19, due to desertification and disease. Irresponsible, flighty Esther doesn't fit in with the rest of Prin, her town of adult-acting teenagers. She skips out on assigned duties to play games with her best friend, a member of the hermaphroditic "variant" tribe that suddenly attacks Prin. Inexplicably, Esther fails to question why her best friend's people are attacking and is instead furious at the townspeople's desire to retaliate with war. To fight, Prin needs two things: weapons and instruction. Caleb, a mysterious newcomer whose wife is dead and baby has been kidnapped, arrives just in time to take the role of hero and to teach others. Esther and Caleb's romance is inevitable. But for Prin to obtain weapons, the town must make a deal with Levi, a teenager who sits with a personal army on a large cache of supplies. A conspiracy renders the variants the least of Prin's worries. While the ruined buildings and desert climate make an imaginative setting, and the idea of a population without adults in such a ravaged world poses intriguing questions, incomplete worldbuilding keeps readers from entering it. While Esther grows as a character and the story comes to an actual conclusion, the narrative shortcuts spoil the impact; whether readers stick around for the next two books is an open question. (Post-apocalyptic romance. 14-17)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Susan Kim's Wasteland Series , #1
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File size:
763 KB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan cowrote the graphic novels City of Spies and Brain Camp.

Susan is also a five-time Emmy nominee for her work in children's television and a Writers Guild Award winner for best documentary. She wrote the stage adaptation of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, teaches writing at Goddard College, and is a blogger for the Huffington Post. When she was growing up, her family moved a lot, and the combination of being a) shy, b) the constant new kid, and c) the only Asian meant she was often picked on. In Guardians, she explores her thoughts and feelings about not just bullies but how others deal with them . . . and learn to stand up for themselves.

Laurence has also written the novels The Cutting Room, The Shooting Script, and the Edgar Award-winning Mrs. White and a short-story collection, The Family Unit and Other Fantasies. He received two Drama Desk nominations for the book and lyrics to Bed and Sofa, a musical produced by New York's Vineyard Theatre. Laurence was the baby in his family, the youngest of four brothers; even his twin brother was two minutes older. He learned that having little expected of you can be a source of power. So does Esther in Guardians: she has to finally accept being a leader of people before it's too late. She is sixteen, after all.

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Wasteland 3.5 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 116 reviews.
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
I wanted so much to like this book but it just wasn’t to be. Wasteland turned out to be something of a wasteland itself. Most of the characters are rather flat and that probably explains why I felt this reads like a graphic novel without the pictures. Esther is 15 but still has very childish ways and emotions even though, in a society in which death comes at 19, you would expect 15-year-olds to be much more mature. When her sister begs her not to leave a worksite because she could be thrown out of the community, she doesn’t care how her behavior is affecting Sarah. She also doesn’t question why the variants have been attacking Prin. Esther is altogether lazy—she doesn’t even bother to learn how to fix a meal, leaving that task to her sister— and amazingly ungrateful, not to mention incredibly naive. Skar, on the other hand, is an empathetic character. She is a variant (while humans are called norms) and she and her family live on the “outside”, not welcome in town. That town is run by Rafe, a mean lout, but the reality is that everything is controlled by the clever, intelligent, supremely psychotic Levi. Then there’s Caleb, whose partner was murdered and his child kidnapped. His search has brought him to Prin and he finds a lot more than he ever expected or hoped, including the dreaded (by me) insta-love. Esther and Caleb fall too hard for each other too soon, especially Esther who has never felt anything towards boys but is suddenly madly in love. Worldbuilding is thin and leaves far too many questions unanswered: what happened and when, when is this, why does everyone die at 19, what is the disease with lesions and how did it start, how did the variants come to be, why is the sun too hot for exposure, how could they still be using gasoline unless “it” wasn’t all that long ago in which case why are there no adults, why is there no learning to farm or hunt, why is everyone monogamous, why are the variants hermaphroditic and why mention it since it doesn’t seem to make any difference in the story, how did a 12-year-old gain such power? Levi muses that “he had found drinkable water in Prin where none had existed for decades” so why would anyone have stayed there plus he’s only been handing out bottled water for 6 years at the most so where did the townspeople get water for all those decades? Most importantly, there are only 5 or 6 pregnancies a year and only one baby, at most, survives to 3 months old but it has supposedly been decades since whatever it was happened and everyone dies at 19 so how is there any population left at all? A good dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel will leave the reader with questions at the end but not this many by a long shot. Wasteland is not the usual dystopian as the town is controlled only by one person rather than a ruling class or government. That difference is a nice touch and I’m sure the authors will make more of that in future volumes. Unfortunately, as you can tell, there is a lot I don’t care for in Wasteland so I doubt I’ll be finding out what happens in those later entries.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While the book has a good story line it leaves a lot of unanswered questions. I thought the character, Esther, was filled out pretty well. It was obviously written for the teenage crowd. I will say I am glad it was a free book, I would have been disappointed if I had paid money for it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book has suspense, but I agree with another review that there are too many unanswered questions and contradictions. Even sci fi has to have a sense of believeability, and this book is missing that component. Not thought out.
ireadeverythingMI More than 1 year ago
For those who may like to read "futuristic" types of books with very real-life scenerios...this is a pretty good book to read. I am 3/4 done reading it, and thus far, it has held my interest pretty good! I recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel this would have been an exceptional story, had more information been given. You don't find out why they live in a dystopian society, or why water is poison. The story just seemed rushed, and lacked anything that would bring it all together. A prequel would be nice, as would a possible sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting story tho the writing is awkward and plot does not really hold together. Certainly expected better from these authors. Glad it was free
Anonymous 8 months ago
An interesting premise fails to deliver.
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You people should just read this novel yourselves and write your own review on this book. I really enjoyed reading this novel very much. ShelleyMA
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A HUGE let down! You can't like a book if you can't like your main character and Esther is whiny, selfish and well stupid. You well no connection with the characters and their actions towards each other feel forced and unrealistic. This is ecspecially true for Esther and Calab's romance (if you can even call it that). I also have a ton of questions that have no answer. What happened to make the world like this? When did it happen? What is making the sun so much hotter? Why is rain water deadly? Where did this diasese come from? Why does it affect people at a certain age? What are the leisons? WHY AND HOW DID THIS WORLD COME TO BE??! I don't think I'm asking to much. When you write a dysotopian you have to have some kind of backstory to explain why this world is the way it is. I mean, that's the point of a post apocoliptic story!! I forced myself to finish this book but I will not be reading the next book when it come out, nor will I be reading anything more from these authors. There are so many good books out there and this isn't one of them. Read the Partials trilogy. Or the Uglies trilogy. Blood red road, Divergent, the hunger games, Under the never sky, the ASHES trilogy is amazing! My chemical garden trilogy, the razorland trilogy,  the birthmarked trilogy, and one of my personal favorites is the study series and glass series. Posion study, magic study, and fire study. Storm glass, sea glass, and spy glass. All of these books are a much better read than this book and there are so many more! 
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