The Knowing

448p. Scholastic. Oct. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780545945240.
Gr 8 Up—In this companion novel to The Forgetting, Cameron once again fashions an elaborate dystopian narrative that fairly prickles with suspense. Five hundred years ago, Earth lost contact with its fledgling colony New Canaan. In the intervening years, a rigidly hierarchical, no-tech society formed. Samara, one of the Knowing, runs away when she realizes that the Council plans to kill her at the next Judgment. On the lam, she encounters newly arrived scouts from a super high-tech Earth, Beckett and Jillian. Though the scouts are under orders to refrain from engaging with New Canaan residents, Beckett finds it impossible to resist helping Samara no matter what it costs him or his mission. Masterful characterizations, world-building, and pacing make for irresistible reading. As the narrative switches between Samara and Beckett, their voices become distinct. Samara's ability to remember everything she has ever dreamed, read, heard, or seen weighs on her emotionally, yet she is compassionate and courageous. Beckett is confident and smart. Though his self-assurance crosses into hubris at times, he learns from his mistakes. Wildly inventive yet somehow believable elements such as "wellness injections," "weavers singing down the looms" at the end of the day, and oblique references to the Fourth and Fifth World Wars add intriguing depth. For all of its fantastical elements such as caching memories, a handheld gadget that fuses broken bones, and a three-moon sky, this companion novel is ultimately a story about two teenagers, Samara and Beckett, finding their places in the world, managing familial and societal expectations, and falling in love.
VERDICT Cameron is a writer of prime caliber. Purchase where the previous book is popular.

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