Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Six Days

Six Days

Fall 2011 Fiction
Ages: 10 - 14 yrs.
Author: Philip Webb
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-0-545-31767-2
Hardcover Price: $17.99

Cass is just about fed up with her younger brother, Wilbur. Their father needs them on the job as scavengers full-time, but Wilbur keeps running off in search of the fabled lost artifact for which their oppressive overlords, the Vlads, are scouring London to find. Cass doesn't even believe it exists. But when Wilbur climbs to the top of Big Ben and is rescued by an oddly dressed stranger with almost as little sense of self-preservation as Wilbur, Cass is drawn into the search for the mysterious artifact. Peyto, the stranger, and Erin, his companion, actually know a great deal about the artifact. For one thing, it's looking for Wilbur, seeking a human soul who can give it strength. For another thing, if Peyto and Erin don't find it, their spaceship, with all its inhabitants, will self-destruct, unleashing war and terror upon Earth in the process.

Without a doubt, the most engaging element of this novel is Cass, the scrappy girl adventurer who narrates in British working-class slang. Her internal voice is easy to understand and follow (this is not A Clockwork Orange), and it is, moreover, distinctive and convincing. Webb also evokes a satisfyingly dark post-apocalyptic world. Many predictable elements recur: the smog-ridden, looted city; the innocent, "special" child; the feisty grandfather who has painstakingly collected clues that nobody's bothered looking at yet. However, Webb's concept of sentient, souled machines offers a different vision than do some of the older stories in this genre, inviting readers to think anew about what it means to be "alive" or to have a soul.

Naomi Lesley   ©2011 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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