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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

In this near-future dystopia with echoes of The Giver and Among the Hidden, Tania Unsworth has created an unsettling page-turner—fast-paced, smooth, filled with dread—that’s wholly satisfying and startlingly original. Devin doesn’t remember life before the world got hot; he has grown up farming the scorched earth with his grandfather in their remote valley. When his grandfather dies, Devin heads for the city. Once there, among the stark glass buildings, he finds scores of children, just like him, living alone on the streets. They tell him rumors of a place for abandoned children, with unlimited food and toys and the hope of finding a new family. But only the luckiest get there. An act of kindness earns Devin an invitation to the home, but it’s soon clear that it’s no paradise. As Devin investigates the intimidating administrator and the zombie-like sickness that afflicts some children, he discovers the home’s horrific true mission. The only real hope is escape, but the place is a…

The One Safe Place

by Tania Unsworth

Overall Book Review:

My original knee-jerk reaction was, “Please, no more dystopian fiction!”   But then, I realized that The One Safe Place is not young adult dystopian fiction; it is middle grade dystopian fiction and I immediately changed my tune.  While the young adult demographic is positively overrun with this type of book, in the middle grade demographic these books are few and far between.  In fact, the only ones that comes readily to mind are The City of Ember and The Giver.  Middle grade readers and writers tend to gravitate towards fantasy so that makes this book something of a rarity.

Author Tania Unsworth creates a unique concept with some interesting moral applications.  The protagonists are children so this book speaks very much to its target audience.  There is a build-up of suspense which will keep young readers guessing as to what is really going on.  Mysterious, intense, but with characters you can cheer for, The One Safe Place leaves with the reader feeling hopeful for the characters’ future, and that is just right for this age group.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamation; 1 mild obscenity.

Violence/Gore:  Report of a death of family member by natural causes; non-detailed report of character being mugged/robbed; verbal threats; report of a father beating a child; scars from beatings are visible; character dives and scrapes face, mention of blood; verbal account by a character of seeing a gang of boys rob and beat another boy, who eventually dies from wounds received, mention of blood; character throws objects at others; small animal attacks a character, minor injuries; destruction of property; a character (child) has arm broken by another (adult), non-detailed.

Sex/Nudity:  Reference to a boy’s “nuts” being small.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death of a family member, child abuse (physical), orphans, poverty, hunger, child exploitation, medical/scientific ethics.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Characters are sedated.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!