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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Post-Apocalyptic Native American Monster-Killer YA Action Novel (now with extra mutants)

Bruchac, Joseph  (2013) Killer of Enemies,  New York:  Tu Books

Opening lines:  "I'm five miles away from the walls of my prison, up in the high country above the Sonoran Desert.  Thus far, surprisingly, nothing has yet attempted to maim or devour me since I have settled here a half hour ago."

Lozen is 17 years old.  She lives in a place that was a prison before the cloud came and civilization crumbled.  She serves four warlords who live in an uneasy alliance.  Lozen's job is to venture out into the wilds beyond the walls of the prison and dispatch the genetically modified monsters who prowl the landscape so that the soldiers and messengers of the warlords can move about freely and loot the wreckage.  Lozen hates the warlords and she hates her job, but she does it because her family also lives int he prison and the Warlords control her access to them.  Lately, though, when she has been out hunting, she has heard a voice in her mind, communicating with her. She isn't sure if the person behind the voice is a friend or a foe, but she suspects that soon everything in her world may change.

This is a good action story that will grab female and male readers alike.  Although most teen readers wouldn't notice or care, there are some flaws in the book.  The first half of the book is written almost episodically.  Lozen gets sent out on mission after mission.  Each time, she fights some kind of genetically altered beast and returns to see her family.  About halfway through the book the larger story really gets going and the pieces start to fit together.

The other thing is that Lozen's identity as a Native-American comes through mostly in her violent warrior heritage.  It helped a lot that her mother's folk stories sometimes clarified for her ways to use her intelligence to defeat her enemies.  It still remains however that shooting something or blowing it up seemed to be the most effective problem-solving strategy in the book.

This one is probably most ideal for high school, though advanced middle school readers could handle it.  It contains very occasional profanity (one or two instances in the whole book) which would probably not result in a challenge.

This would be a good one to add to your classroom library.

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