Epitaph Road by David Patneaude

In 2067, a virus struck the earth.  Killing 97% of the male population meant women were forced to take over the world.  Thirty years later, Kellen is a teenage boy in a world full of women.  The supervirus, Elisha’s Bear, has periodically reared its ugly head again and again over the past 30 years killing men who live in outback towns and small loner communities.   The world is better off than it was before Elisha’s Bear- no war, crime is al at all-time low, and women are strong and confident.  Kellen has resigned himself to his limited future as a male when he eavesdrops on his mother, who happens to be a high-ranking member of the Population Apportionment Council.  She and her boss are plotting a new outbreak of the virus aimed toward a community of “throwbacks” (loner men).  The problem?  That community includes Kellen’s father. With two new female friends, Kellen manages to escape to warn his dad.  iIn the process, he uncovers the shocking truth behind Elisha’s Bear.

Epitaph Road was a great book to read after The Giver and Unwind. It’s not as strong as the aforementioned books, but I really enjoyed it. One of my favorite parts of the book were the epitaphs that begin each chapter. Many of them left me wanting to know more about the men they were dedicated to. Some of them were haunting.

I immediately fell into the book while reading the prologue. After that, it seemed to slow down a bit. I was left wanting more until Kellen escaped from Seattle and managed to find his father. At that point, I couldn’t put the book down! The novel raises a lot of gender questions that could lead to some great debates. I could imagine my own students defending the choices made by certain characters while condemning those made by other characters.

I am happy to report this is a book that will appeal to boys and girls alike. The protagonist is male but the two supporting characters are female. It’s full of adventure and has a touch of romance- enough to tantalize some readers but not enough to send others running for the hills. Patneaude seems to have the ending open for a sequel so I look forward to that. I can see this being very popular with my students, most of whom are in a dystopian phase.

*Review copy courtesy of publisher