As the current age thunders to a close, five kids are playing together in a river that runs through a forest to the sea. All the while, the society they are soon to inherit is disintegrating. The story follows the diverse predispositions of the kids from the river into adulthood as they define their evolving personalities, amidst the chaos of their decaying world.
Marauding insurgents continually sweep down upon a teetering world government from autonomous northern frontiers, causing human suffering and misery.
As adults, the kids from the river take separate paths to finding love and losing it, to ascending on meteoric careers and plunging into the depths of self-destruction.
The desperate times open the way for Senator Aaron Mire, a charismatic charlatan, whose campaign is awash in conspiracies which polarize the kids from the river.
Amy Ramsey, a kid from the river, becomes the beautiful standard bearer for the Senator’s Genesis Party. Her position clashes with her father, John Ramsey, renowned as the “last great man.” Chairman of the world’s most successful company and the inventor of the mysterious Moon Glow project, John Ramsey is Mire’s most feared adversary.
Ramsey’s personal life is haunted by the memory of a fire-fight while on active duty patrol in the northern frontier, when he discovers his estranged son, born of an affair more than twenty years before, is among the insurgents he has killed.
James, a cheat and a liar when he was a kid in the river, maintains a twisted erotic passion for Amy, but her love since childhood has always been Max Morgan. With his powerful position in Mire’s New Order, James has Max imprisoned, using criminal connections and manufactured evidence to falsely link Max to terrorist activities.
Max’s claustrophobic isolation in prison is made painfully real by the prison experiences I witnessed as a prison corrections officer, while working my way through college, and years later, through interaction with my daughter’s murderer. While sequestered in isolation, Max battles ever encroaching madness to find liberation in a state of mind.
With Max locked away, James uses Amy to exact his erotic victory. Soon thereafter, his company is involved in an air traffic tragedy in which hundreds of lives are lost. James is indicted and is facing a lengthy prison term. At the same time, evidence surfaces to exonerate Max, resulting in his release.
As Senator Mire’s mystique grows, John Ramsey becomes infected with the dreaded Tezca virus, a pandemic plaguing the world’s population. Ramsey is able to self-analyze his dying experience during intermittent bolts of awareness that rifle through the black night of his coma. When next the kids from the river reconvene, it is at John Ramsey’s funeral.
James is already a withered, broken man facing years of incarceration. Max and Amy are, at long last, reunited. Together, they set the past is adrift downriver, around the bend and out of sight forever.
In these desperate times to come, the duration of life and memory diminish.
I think that the premise of this novel is one that is very promising. I liked where Mark Cosman took it, it just seemed a while to get there. I would have liked a bit of a more even flow with the plot. The characters were definitely well developed and fun to read about. Overall this was a great young adult dystopian novel.
Mark Cosman’s writing began when his daughter, Berlyn, was murdered following her high school prom. It was when he left the rubble of his beliefs and assumptions to go in search of answers to the most profound questions we humans ask ourselves. His first book, “A Flower in the Snow” and later, “The Kids from the River” are the result of that odyssey.