Dust Road, the sequel to Flood World, is another epic adventure on a grand scale. Its gripping plot, vicious villains, courageous heroes and thought provoking themes combine to make this a rewarding read for children and teens.
Tom Huddleston has set his stories in a dystopian world where the rising sea levels have flooded cities while other parts of the world are now barren and desolate. This all feels disturbingly believable which adds to the impact. In Flood World we first met Kara and Joe who survive in The Shanties, the sunken ruins of a once great city. They unwittingly find themselves drawn into a battle between sinister crooks and The Mariners, a group of ruthless sea pirates. The situation quickly spirals out of control and Kara and Joe find their courage and loyalty tested repeatedly.
Dust Road takes up Kara and Joe’s story as they embark on a perilous journey across the Atlantic and then through the barren wastelands of the US with a band of sinister outlaws who are determined to destroy the Mariners and steal their world and resources. The mounting danger and the moments of nail biting tension make this an exciting read and the powerful descriptions of both landscape and events again give Dust Road a cinematic feel. The places and the people felt real to me and this engagement adds to the reader’s enjoyment. The illustrations add to the appeal and I particularly like the fabulous map by Jensine Eckwall. Since childhood I have always been drawn to books with maps as for me this strengthens the belief in the world created by the author.
The risks the children take and the danger in which they find themselves ensures that this sequel is a gripping read. There are sinister aspects to the villains that promote thoughts about modern politics and the use of power. There are new evil characters that Kara and Joe must tackle and old enemies from the previous book return too. Interesting themes are conveyed within the story too. There are times when the children have to make difficult choices and this novel will encourage readers to think about individual responsibility and loyalty to friends and family. These are not stereotypes or one dimensional characters, these children make mistakes, have doubts and struggle at times to cope with their predicament. Yet they are also brave, resourceful and determined, all qualities that will inspire young readers. I particularly liked the way in which Kara and Joe mature throughout the story and there is an important message about helping others conveyed within the adventure. Tom Huddleston combines cliff hanging tension and high drama with moments of humanity and thoughtfulness with great effect. I enjoyed this very much.
A gripping and original read with some unforgettable characters and tense moments. Dust Road would be excellent for readers of about 10+ who love thrills and excitement.
Thank you very much to Tom Huddleston, Rebecca Mason and Nosy Crow Books for providing my review copy. Dust Road is available to purchase in all good bookshops or online
There are excellent teaching resources available on the publisher’s website linked to the two books.
You can get a taste of Dust Road with this extract: