This outstanding first title in a trilogy should have readers eagerly anticipating the next installment. Foon lays the foundation for a compelling dystopian novel featuring Roan, a 15-year-old boy thrust into a hero’s journey after his peace-loving village is destroyed. He and his younger sister, Stowe, are the only survivors. She is taken to the City and used for nefarious purposes that will presumably be explained in later books. Roan, at first, seems to have been saved by a man named Saint, the leader of a small band of warriors. When the teen uncovers the truth about Saint, he flees into the polluted, devastated wilderness. He is befriended by another teen who shows him how to survive. They journey into various villages, meeting people who will help them on their quest. There’s a lot more going on in this well-written adventure. Readers will be reminded of Lois Lowry’s The Giver (1993) and Gathering Blue (2000,both Houghton) (assigned jobs and isolated, barbaric civilizations post-disaster), Rodman Philbrick’s The Last Book in the Universe (Scholastic, 2000) (pollution, disease, and illiteracy), and even Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (Turtleback, 1953) (aversion to books and independent thought). In addition, older readers will notice biblical references, Buddhist elements, Eastern ideas, and metaphysical concepts. All in all, an entertaining and promising start.
– Trevelyn Jones, School Library Journal, January 2004
At the age of fifteen Roan’s village was destroyed in an incursion, along with his parents. He was taken under the wing of a group called the Brothers. He tried to find out more about the Brothers’ beliefs, and when he discovered the truth, Roan fled into the dreadful Devastation. There he finds Lumpy, who becomes a faithful friend. As he travels onward he sees visions, that guide his way. His visions eventually guide him to Alandra. Together they plan and attempt a terrifying journey to freedom.
The book, The Dirt Eaters, is the first of The Longlight Legacy written by Vancouver author, Dennis Foon. He has also written Skud and Double or Nothing, and is currently working on Freewalker, the sequel to The Dirt Eaters. The Dirt Eaters is a soft-cover fantasy novel with 313 pages. It is suitable for intermediates with good comprehension and reading capabilities.
I really enjoyed The Dirt Eaters and can’t wait to read the next one. The book looks fairly thick and daunting. My first thought was “Oh no, that’s going to take forever to read.” When done, I wished it had gone on forever. Despite its length, I was disappointed when I’d finished it (not because the ending was bad!), but because I wanted to read more about the Longlight Legacy.” A definite 5 star book. *****
– Hayley, Sarah’s Stars
A snow cricket leaps between two smoldering buildings onto a collapsed stone wall. It sits for a moment, antennae probing, then jumps to a footprint in the snow. It vaults again and again, from footprint to footprint, moving past snow covered boulders, until it stops at a thick patch of blue bramble and settles beneath the thorns, on a mound of snow speckled red.
The white cricket sings on sweet, resonant note. The mound shudders and, within it, a pair of eyes snaps open. The eyes belong to Roan.
And thus begins Dennis Foon’s first book in “The Longlight Legacy.” The post apocalyptic setting includes competition for power and control by surviving factions. Several years ago, Roan’s great grandfather and some of his followers founded the village of Longlight when they were forced to leave their settlement. Somehow, the Masters of the City had discovered their secret camp, and Roan’s great grandfather instructed the people to leave in groups and form new societies. Roan’s great grandfather was a visionary, and those skeptics who remained behind in the secret camp because they questioned the information he had received in one of his visions were killed.
Longlight was an anti violent settlement, and its residents were educated in the ways of peace. When the novel opens, Longlight has been destroyed by raiders, but fifteen year old Roan has survived the attack. Roan is taken in by a group of male warriors who call themselves Brothers and worship “The Friend.” The leader of the Brothers, Saint, is a huge and powerful man who claims that he was chosen by “The Friend” to lead the people. Under the tutelage of one of the Brothers, Roan discovers, to his surprise, that he has great facility as a fighter. Like his great grandfather, Roan is a visionary and experiences dreams and visions where a rat, a mountain lion and a goat woman speak to him. He also hears his sister in his dreams, and Roan knows that she is alive, although under the control of adversaries.
Roan begins his initiation into the Brotherhood, but when he learns the truth about Saint and the Brothers, he commits his first act of violence. Roan flees into the Devastation, the most wasted lands of all. He is befriended by Lumpy, an adolescent whose face is disfigured from Mor Ticks. Lumpy accompanies Roan on their perilous journey to the healing place. Once they reach their destination, they meet the Forgotten, people who survived the Abominations, and Roan learns more about the historical context that led to the Last Battles.
In the spring, Roan and Lumpy leave the Forgotten as Roan’s visions tell him that he must keep moving. On their travels, Roan is poisoned by a Nethervine thorn, and Lumpy assists his seriously ill friend in traveling to a village called Fairview. Roan is saved by a healer called Alandra, and it is through Alandra that Roan learns the reasons for the destruction of his village, the location of his sister, and his purpose in life. Of course, Roan must face Saint one more time before the conclusion of the novel.
Foon has created a believable and disturbing futuristic world where survivors struggle to subsist on post apocalyptic earth. However, through Roan and several other characters, there is hope for a renewed life. The multiple conflicts in the novel create energy and tension, and the characterization is strong throughout. Foon’s writing is taut and powerful, and the fast paced, evocative and compelling tale is totally engaging. This reader anxiously awaits the sequel, Freewalker. Highly Recommended. ****/4
– Sylvia Pantaleo, CM, Volume X Number 1, September 5, 2003