War of the Wind

Apr. 2024. 256p. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781915584618.
Gr 5 Up–Fourteen-year-old Max lost his hearing because of a boating accident and has spent two years trying to adjust. Scragness Island, a small fishing community off the coast of Scotland, has few educational supports, and Max resents small group learning where he is surrounded by students he disparagingly terms “zoomers.” However, the government is installing new wind turbines that promise broadband access and free cell phones to all residents. Max is hopeful, since a promised speech-to-text app will finally allow him to reconnect with friends and family who struggle to communicate through sign language. Once the wind turbines come online, however, strange things begin happening: birds disappear, animals exhibit unexpected aggressiveness, and people become irritable and out of sorts. Only Max and Erin, who is also deaf, seem to be immune. Enlisting the help of fellow classmates Beanie and David, they ultimately unravel a mystery that involves subliminal waves and mind control. While this dark twist becomes the main story, Max learns the importance of disregarding labels and challenging his preconceived biases. Beanie has Down syndrome, and David uses a wheelchair and they, along with Erin, are key in thwarting the government experiment. Sign language is represented using capital letters, and effectively highlights the daily communication barriers Max faces. Characters default to white, and a helpful glossary of Scottish phrases is included.
VERDICT An interesting book that shows character growth and some unexpected twists; recommended for fans of Carl Hiaasen or Gordon Korman.

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