Book Review: Epitaph Road

Book Review: Epitaph RoadEpitaph Road by David Patneaude
Published by Egmont USA on December 28th 2010
Pages: 272

2097 is a transformed world. Thirty years earlier, a mysterious plague wiped out 97 percent of the male population, devastating every world system from governments to sports teams, and causing both universal and unimaginable grief. In the face of such massive despair, women were forced to take over control of the planet--and in doing so they eliminated all of Earth's most pressing issues. Poverty, crime, warfare, hunger . . . all gone.

But there's a price to pay for this new "utopia," which fourteen-year-old Kellen is all too familiar with. Every day, he deals with life as part of a tiny minority that is purposefully kept subservient and small in numbers. His career choices and relationship options are severely limited and controlled. He also lives under the threat of scattered recurrences of the plague, which seem to pop up wherever small pockets of men begin to regroup and grow in numbers.

And then one day, his mother's boss, an iconic political figure, shows up at his home. Kellen overhears something he shouldn't--another outbreak seems to be headed for Afterlight, the rural community where his father and a small group of men live separately from the female-dominated society. Along with a few other suspicious events, like the mysterious disappearances of Kellen's progressive teacher and his Aunt Paige, Kellen is starting to wonder whether the plague recurrences are even accidental. No matter what the truth is, Kellen cares only about one thing--he has to save his father.

Epitaph Road is a dystopian lovers’ dream. Patneaude takes the reader on a grand adventure by showing the reader both the before and after shots, so to speak. As a reader, it was interesting to witness the events has they were unfolding. And have a realistic understanding of the kind of devastation that the virus was capable of.

It is not often that a novel can surprise me, but this one definitely did. Epitaph Road, at its essence, is a novel about sexism. The world that Kellen’s father inhabited was a man’s world. They held all the high offices and basically ran the world… but that was before the plague. Flash forward a couple years, and the world is now controlled by women. Now I am all for feminism, but reading about feminism from a male writer made it seem a little odd. True, Patneaude does a wonderful job at highlighting the points… but it just felt weird reading about a mostly pro-female world knowing that my writer was male.

Despite my issue with this aspect of the novel, it was highly enjoyable read. The writing was done nicely and in a manner that was easy to follow. And the characters were for the most part, fleshed out and engaging. I adored the dystopian element of the novel since it was something that I had yet to see before. And although I had some questions about the motives behind the plague, it was easier just to follow along and enjoy the novel for what it was, then ponder over questions that might never be answered. Epitaph Road was not the best dystopian novel that I have ever read. However, it introduces new themes into a genre that has completely captured my attention, and for that I am grateful.

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