Exodus AND Zenith by Julie Bertagna

Alright, these were the two books that I was waiting for from the library last week when I read Magical Thinking. But first, my week in review.

I really don’t get any breathing space at all with these classes. Last night, Monday, I completed my final English Composition class. Now, to be clear, this wasn’t a normal highschool class; it was a college level course I took through the local Adult Ed. program, that I attended at night with a bunch of adults. It was a lot of work, and I was taking a psychology class at the same time, but I really enjoyed it! I don’t gel with my peers most of the time, so it was really nice and refreshing to take a class with people older than me, and I liked my teachers as well. It was a bittersweet moment when I had to say goodbye to everyone.

In comparison- today I attended my painting class, which is a normal highschool course with normal highschool students. And patience, I have to tell you this story. There are these two sophomores in my class who drive me completely up the wall. Every class is exactly the same- gossip and complaining about what they have to do. This week we were assigned the task of completing and performing an oral report on an artist of our choice, any artist at all. We have to create a slideshow of their work to accompany our speech, and it’s really quite easy. But these two girls just wouldn’t shut up about how much of a pain it is to make a slideshow, and how it would be so much better to do a poster instead. My art teacher couldn’t ACTUALLY tell them to shut up, so finally (and remember that I’ve been repressing the desire to ring their necks ALL SEMESTER) I told them off for her. I explained why doing posters was a bad idea (namely: highschoolers make shitty posters, and they would not be pleasing to look at) and that they were not representatives of the entire school. When they hate something, it doesn’t mean everyone does. Then one of the girls said that she could say whatever she want, she had “freedom of speech. It’s the first amendment, look it up.” And I said that I had listened to them exercise their freedom of speech all semester without speaking up because unlike them, I knew that voicing my frustration would not a) help the situation, or b) make anyone feel better. And just like I knew would happen, they turned right around and started attacking ME.

Later, I returned to the art room to get my things, and the teacher came right up to me and apologized for how the class went. I was shocked, because I had been about to apologize to HER for my outburst. She said that I voiced my opinion very respectfully and she was certainly going to talk to the girls about their behavior in her class. Victory.


Okay, I didn’t cheat. See that title? See what I did there? Exodus AND Zenith by Julie Bertagna. I had intended to read both books in the series, one right after the other. So rather than write two reviews of two related books, right in a row, I just decided to save it and create one review for both.

This one came strongly recommended by a friend. For this reason, I was truly hoping to like it a lot- she’s recommended to me some very good ones before. This novel was science fiction (which isn’t entirely my thing) with elements of fantasy. Set in 2100, the ice caps have completely melted and the Earth is almost entirely flooded. Surviving on the shrinking island of Wing is a young woman named Mara who would really like to not drown in the next few weeks. So, after talking to one of her village’s elders, she manages to convince her entire village that there are cities floating in the sky which would be ideal places for them to run to. Packed into fishing boats, they set out.

That’s really all I can tell you as far as summary. A lot happens, and to explain each different part you need to know the part prior, and I don’t want to spoil. Now, since this is set on Earth, 89 years into our future, there are remnants from the world as we know it today. The one which Mara finds is what she calls The Weave, which she accesses through a curious device called a cyberwizz, which I couldn’t exactly envision in my head. It creates a virtual experience for her to run around in and explore, and it’s all quite exciting.

I’m a little sorry to say that I didn’t really like this book that much. It was thought provoking and scary- the global flood was a consequence of human behavior- but it didn’t really capture me. I liked Mara, but I never really grew attached to her. Admittedly, the book became more interesting about halfway through, but it didn’t seem like it worked very hard to redeem itself.

One of the most difficult things about this book was that there wasn’t nearly enough detail. There was a bit of exposition and some dialogue, but Bertagna spent almost no time describing settings and locations, so I had a lot of difficulty visualizing the story. That made it much less interesting for me.

But, I got through that book and decided that I would at least give the sequel a shot.

I got one hundred pages into this one before deciding that it wasn’t worth it. Mostly, I was just bored. Usually when I don’t finish a book, I don’t mention it on here (to avoid the shame, mm) but I thought it deserved at least a mention, since it forced me to break my own rule.

This one picks up where the last left off, as well as introducing a new character- Tuck, a Gypsea boy who lives in a city floating on the ocean. I liked Tuck, but even he wasn’t that interesting. I wonder why? By all accounts, he should have been interesting- he was a young, fatherless thief with a drunken, nagging mother and a chip on his shoulder. Exactly my type of hero, you know?

So it’s hard to explain, and that might be the most frustrating part- neither of these books moved slowly, there was always something happening, and the characters were lovely and three dimensional. So why didn’t I like them? If any of you have any insight, I would appreciate it quite a lot. It’s a similar question as I pondered last week, when I asked why people are so fascinated by the dark things that truly captivate us? Unless it’s just me.

Really, I don’t even know.

Okay, I’ll admit that I feel like this one was a bust, but moving on. I’ve got four books in my pile right now; one from the library, two gifts, and one I bought myself with Christmas gift cards. Also, have any of you read The History of Love? I very strongly recommend it. It’s one of my favorite novels, and once I get a moment to reread it, I’ll review it right here.

Published in: on January 11, 2011 at 9:27 pm  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. READ VC ANDREWS DAMMIT! This one has a gay character, finally. twelve books in, I finally get a gay character. Isn’t that reason enough for you?

    • I already read a VC Andrews book! You can’t say I’ve never given her a shot. I’m working through a pile right now. Lemme ‘lone.

  2. Sucks that you didn’t like it; but to each their own.

    Though I don’t think I can forgive you for not finishing Zenith… honestly, compared to all the books you read it’s TINY and you didn’t even try to complete it?? It gets amazing towards the middle when they’re in the cave… you can’t fake emotion like that.

    But whatever, no matter. You tried you didn’t like.

    Glad you tried though

    • I can hear the pissiness coming through your words.

      Look, the thing is that I didn’t even like Exodus all the much. There were things about it that bugged me and that I found uninteresting. But I was still going to try Zenith, because I knew you wouldn’t leave me alone if I didn’t. But it got to the point where I wasn’t actively searching out time to read it, and for me that means that I really wasn’t enjoying it. I got over 100 pages in, practically a third of the way. So just forgive, okay? Between Exodus and Zenith, I read 450 pages I didn’t really care for, for you. So I’m sorry I didn’t like them.

      Also, at 350 pages per book, it’s not tiny compared to what I read, it’s about the same size. Memoirs of a Geisha just happens to be huge. My books are usually between 250 and 400 pages.

      • As I said, to each their own; glad you tried it anyway

  3. My review:
    Exodus is set in the year 2099, when the Earth has all but drowned and only a few islands remain habitable. Mara is confined to her fast-disappearing island home of Wing, which is ravaged by fierce storms and an ever-dwindling supply of food, and where every night she escapes into a virtual world known as the Weave. One night, she discovers ‘proof’ of the mythical Sky Cities – entire cities that rose into the sky and kept their inhabitants safe from the flooded world below – and sets about convincing everyone of their existence, keeping secret the fact that she only discovered their existence from a talking fox, who may or may not be an enemy… She convinces the community to set sail on a terrifyingly dangerous journey to find these Sky Cities; but what will they find there?

    I really wasn’t sure about this book at first – the blurb made it sound a teensy bit corny and when I started reading it, there wasn’t much of a story (in fact, the story doesn’t really kick off until about 75 pages to the end) and the present tense in which it is written takes a bit of getting used to – but I was intrigued by this incredibly detailed future that Bertagna had created and was interested to know what would happen when the story did kick off; and boy, am I glad I did! Not to say that there was no story before the ‘pick up the pace’ point – the book was beautifully written throughout and those pages were quite vital to the plot of the story, as well as essential in making connections with the characters in the book.

    The characters are all really well developed and you genuinely care about them when horrible things happen to them. You also really feel for them and their situation – after all, the book in set just 90 years away, in a world that struggles to survive because of extreme flooding; a world that is frighteningly likely to happen and it could be our great-grandchildren that live in the nightmare-world, making it an eye-opening, powerful read.

    An exceedingly beautifully written and thought-provoking read. I cannot wait to read the rest of the trilogy!

  4. My Review

    Exodus Review

    Exodus is a gripping book. It is a memorable book. I could not put it down. But sometimes describes too much and there is not much action.
    Mara’s island is drowning. Is there any hope for the people of Wing? She meets a mysterious fox in the weave. He tells her of a forgotten town in the sky. Will they get there?
    I would recommend this book to girls 11+! This is a book you must read!
    I rate it 4.5 stars!

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