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Streams of Babel
ISBN: 9780152165567
Author: Plum-Ucci, Carol
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Published: May 2008
Retail: $17.00    OUR PRICE: $2.99
     You Save 82%
Binding Type: Hardcover
Qty:
Annotation: A Printz Honor Award author and two-time Edgar Allan Poe Award finalist explores disturbing new terrain in this riveting novel that examines the heroes and victims involved in a terrifying act of bioterrorism.
Additional Information
Physical Information: 1.26" H x 8.54" L x 6.00" W 424 pages
Bargain Category: Action & Adventure, High School, Middle School, Mystery, Social Issues
Grade level(s): 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
 
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.
Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Fall)
This harrowing thriller sifts through a kaleidoscope of perspectives to tell the story of a biological attack on an insignificant New Jersey suburb, focusing on the four young adults primarily affected. High school students Cora and Owen have little in common until their mothers die of a strange "flu" within twenty-four hours of each other. Scattered clues and suspicions, pursued by Owen's paramedic older brother, Scott, build to the realization that the illness was part of a terrorist attack on the water supply -- and Cora, Owen, and Scott are all displaying symptoms. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, sixteen-year-old Shahzad works as a "virtual spy" for the U.S. government, tracking the perpetrators through Internet activity. Debilitating asthma prompts a move to America, where he is first kept in the dark and then fired because of his age, whereupon he begins chasing leads on his own. Plum-Ucci deftly layers global intrigue and action atop more intimate mysteries (the unfolding of Cora's mother's past is particularly effective) and draws on the full potential of the split-narrative structure, using perspective shifts to manipulate tension and propel the plot forward. Her characters are complicated and distinct even before the stakes are raised, and Shahzad, unequivocally crusading against terrorism, is fascinatingly ambivalent about America itself -- its promises, excesses, and contradictions. Rich with unanswerable questions and timely urgency, Streams of Babel captures the frailty of post-9/11 American life. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2008 #3)
This harrowing thriller sifts through a kaleidoscope of perspectives to tell the story of a biological attack on an insignificant New Jersey suburb, focusing on the four young adults primarily affected. High school students Cora and Owen have little in common until their mothers die of a strange "flu" within twenty-four hours of each other. Scattered clues and suspicions, pursued by Owen's paramedic older brother, Scott, build to the realization that the illness was part of a terrorist attack on the water supply -- and Cora, Owen, and Scott are all displaying symptoms. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, sixteen-year-old Shahzad works as a "virtual spy" for the U.S. government, tracking the perpetrators through Internet activity. Debilitating asthma prompts a move to America, where he is first kept in the dark and then fired because of his age, whereupon he begins chasing leads on his own. Plum-Ucci deftly layers global intrigue and action atop more intimate mysteries (the unfolding of Cora's mother's past is particularly effective) and draws on the full potential of the split-narrative structure, using perspective shifts to manipulate tension and propel the plot forward. Her characters are complicated and distinct even before the stakes are raised, and Shahzad, unequivocally crusading against terrorism, is fascinatingly ambivalent about America itself -- its promises, excesses, and contradictions. Rich with unanswerable questions and timely urgency, Streams of Babel captures the frailty of post-9/11 American life. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2008 July)

Gr 8–11— In 2002, high school outcast Cora Holman's mom dies of a mysterious brain aneurysm, preceded by flulike symptoms. Then Cora, Owen Eberman, and two of their friends gradually come down with a similar ailment. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, 16-year-old computer genius and cyber-spy Shahzad, who is working for the U.S. government, has uncovered information about a terror threat called Red Vinegar, and he is taken to New York in order to follow the terrorist chatter more directly. Through the alternating narratives and interwoven lives of six teens (including the child of a terrorist working on behalf of North Korea), Plum-Ucci offers a compelling tale of bioterror. It is, however, unclear why she chose to depict a group of religious terrorists celebrating by "popping champagne and drinking forties," unless, perhaps, it is to indicate hypocrisy in their ranks. The characters, particularly Shahzad, are well drawn and have unique voices, and the unresolved ending leaves a lot of room for thought and discussion. Ultimately, this is a tautly paced thriller that will force readers to think about the complexities of living in a post-9/11 world.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

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