The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth
Published by Algonquin Books in 2014
This book caught me off guard…The description mentioned zombies, which made me groan. And we’re at a stage, where dystopian books are a dime a dozen, but this books is much more thoughtful than that. It’s a hard book to describe in a short space, but it’s an excellent read that teens will love!
Devin lived on a farm with his grandfather, growing what they needed. Climate change caused people to turn on each other, focused more on individual survival than teamwork. Devin and his grandfather were lucky, because they had their farm away from the city. After his grandfather’s death, Devin goes to the city and realizes what a struggle life has become. No one can be trusted. Then he meets a girl named Kit.
Soon after, Devin is approached by a boy that is taking kids to a children’s home. He will be fed, clothed, and want for nothing. Devin, not wanting to turn his back on his new friend, states that he will only go if Kit can come too. They go, but it turns out there may be a sinister nature to this home. They quickly learn that they can’t leave, because they are providing a service to their elderly visitors to the home. The ladies in charge are allowing the elderly to swap minds with the kids, so they can relive their childhood. How can the kids escape?
Since this book was advertised as a dystopian (with the word zombie in the description), the reader is looking for signs of a stereotypical dystopian with other well established works in mind. Unsworth, does a good job of focusing on the characters instead of the situation. Climate change is the reason society became disconnected, but she doesn’t make it too extreme. Zombies don’t make an appearance in the book, but the characters start acting listless and erratic. Fans of Neil Shusterman’s Unwind series will enjoy this book. This book brings something new to the table without excluding younger readers.