Video Review(7m): https://youtu.be/rT4JXt6uLCU
Basically, a brain disease has killed the majority of the world’s population and the only people that survived were individuals that had something different with their minds. This brain disease, however, makes these survivors go through something called the Changeland when they turn an adolescent. In the Changeland, they must survive this weird dream-like state and either emerge as a person with mental powers or as cannibalistic Ferals. We follow twins, a boy named Narrah and a girl named Arika, as they go through their own Changeland. Within the Changeland they fight for their life against someone known as the Anteater. Outside the Changeland, the twins get separated and Narrah is kidnapped. Arika must now figure out what happened in the Changeland, how it pertains to the real world and find her kidnapped brother.
Our setting is in south-western Australia and right away this made me excited as I haven’t read any books that deal with that area. I knew that the southwest had an interesting climate and was highly diverse, so that was definitely a selling point for me with this book. I got a sense of the growth and forest where the twin’s settlement was, but as the story progressed I was a bit disappointed in the lack of detail describing the landscape. The Changeland was this very weird dream-like area where almost anything could happen. A lot of what happened in the Changeland was random and these parts weren’t my favorite part of the book. I’ve never been a huge fan of dream-like worlds and this one didn’t really do much for me.
I thought the premise of the book was interesting, that there were all these survivors of an apocalypse, and that they changed because of the disease. There is a slight theme about the individuals that survived were people that had things wrong with their mind before the disease. I thought this idea was fantastic and I really wanted the author to explore this theme more. I wanted more information about how the older people felt before the disease and how they feel now, including the difference in how they think, but I never really got that. If this theme was explored more strongly it would have been a much stronger book in my opinion.
I really like reading about siblings in young adult literature. I get tired of romance in YA and it was nice to have the main relationship be a brother and a sister. I thought S.C. Flynn did an amazing job at making sure we understood how close Narrah and Arika were. This was the highlight of the book for me because it is just refreshing to read a book about siblings. They also had a couple of friends that joined them and provided some romance elements but it was toned down because these are just kids that went through adolescence, around 14 years old. Even though I liked the younger cast of main characters, I couldn’t help but think that these adolescents were awfully mature for their age. I guess in a post-apocalyptic world, kids would grow up a lot faster, though. It only makes sense when you are trying to survive that you mature more than most kids do in our world.
In the end, I was a bit disappointed in Children of the Different. I liked the setting, the idea, and the characters, but the construction of the story seemed off. I felt that Flynn gave away too much of the world and plot too soon. We were thrown into the Changeland almost right away, without connecting to the characters, and it made me not really care at first. Once they got out of the Changeland, the characterization got much better. I think the book would have succeeded with a better opening scene showcasing the relationships between the children characters, having fun, and making the world more mysterious. Tension about the unknown should have pushed the story forward but by half way through, we knew basically everything. As a reader, I was just given too much info, too early, and the kidnapping plot/Changeland narratives just weren’t strong enough for me to get sucked into the story. I wanted more mystery and leaving me hanging with questions about this world.
I thought the book was just alright but was happy to see an interesting, unique setting with twins as main characters. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for other things Flynn writes as I think he has talent and his ideas are great. I just wanted more mystery that allowed myself to really start asking questions and try to figure things out.
10/25 Possible Score
2(OK) – Plot
3(Good) – Characters
2(OK) – World Building
2(OK) – Writing Style
1 – Heart & Mind Aspect