Hirsch, Jeff Black River Falls, 325 pages. Clarion Books, 2016. $17.99. Mature Content: PG; Language: G (0 swears); Violence: PG-13.
The town of Black River Falls has been under quarantine for over a year to prevent the spread of a new and mysterious virus that causes people to lose their memory. Various support organizations have come and gone, and Cardinal Cassidy has somehow managed to remain uninfected for all this time. Along with former bully Greer and newcomer Hannah, they watch over a small group of orphaned children, eking out a living on the green hills surrounding town. A new corporate group has been assigned to take over the “management” of Black River Falls, and they have plans to substantially change the pattern of living that the infected have fallen into, leading to civic unrest.
This story has an appealing premise and characters. We see Card as he, alone, struggles with the memory of his deteriorating family: prior to the outbreak, his dad could not handle the success of his comic book career, leading to anger and alienation. Unfortunately, the author intersperses the comic book characters into Card’s real life, which gives the impression that Card is mentally unstable and makes for plodding plot development. I found the comic book scenes and descriptions boring, and some other parts confusing, but I kept reading because I was really curious to know what went down the night of October 16.
MS/HS – OPTIONAL. Reviewed by JA, High School Librarian