Fugitives from Northwoods

Reviewed by Lucy Middlemass

Fugitives from Northwoods
Chris Bostic

Fugitives From NorthwoodFugitives from Northwoods is a young adult dystopian adventure story about a group of teenagers forced to escape a labour camp. Hunted by their captors, they survive in an environment that’s both friend and enemy.

Capable narrator Penn leads the reader through frigid lakes and forests, injury and loss using simple descriptions and unfussy prose to present the setting and its challenges. The author showcases his knowledge of the landscape, but resists the temptation to let it overwhelm the plot.

Although primarily an adventure story with plenty of outdoorsy appeal, it’s Penn’s mature and measured voice that shapes the novel. Much of the book’s success relies on whether Penn’s narration and character is believable and sympathetic.

There is sometimes a contrast between his rather grandiose thoughts and dialogue, and the direct general narration. Penn is well-read, free-thinking and self-aware, and this might make him an unrealistic teenage boy. For example, he assesses the difference between himself and a fellow escapee by noting “My self-righteousness and his caustic brooding.”

I felt, however, much would be lost if Penn were dumbed-down. Although there’s pleasure in his simple descriptions, such as “as the lonely bulb hanging from bare wires pops to life” and “a bone chilling shiver that I can’t seem to shake”, Penn’s unusual character allows for more ambitious story-telling techniques. For example, throughout the story, he refers to Frost’s poem, reminding the reader that “I can feel the dark and deep.”

Penn’s companions are a nice mixture of grumpy, helpful and doomed. There’s a romantic plot line as Penn deals with his complicated feelings for Cesswi, and although two of the girls in the group are much less comfortable with life on the run, Cesswi at least is an effective second in command. A decision the couple make about their future provides the story with a surprising ending.

Well-suited to young readers looking for a fast-paced, exciting story full of guard dogs, float planes, searchlights, gunfire and self-sacrifice.

Fugitives from Northwoods

Amazon US
Amazon UK


One thought on “Fugitives from Northwoods

  1. Pingback: Free | The Pankhearst Review

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