Everyone remembers the day they truly became an adult; some call it the best day of their lives while others think of it as the worst. Kasey Byrne will never make that choice, because it’s just been taken away from her. Her old life has ended along with her world. What remains is an existential comment on the details; her memories, her regrets, her dashed hopes for the future, and the insanely deadly situation which she now navigates on a one way trip to the End of the World.
As the book opens, eight-year-old Kasey is playing on the beach when a stranger hands her an amulet, insisting that he’s sorry. For all the fuss her Mom makes of the encounter, Kasey feels safe when wearing the device, embossed with the figure of a white dragon.
Ten years later, she’s living the life of a million other Long Island girls her age: school is done, and summer approaches. She baby-sits her neighbors’ kids for cash. She has friends, a decent home life, a new car (a birthday present from her Dad to compensate for a bitter divorce), plenty of time to go surfing on the South Shore, and a boy who is interested in her.
All that comes to a screeching halt after she wakes to find thousands of dolphins in the process of beaching themselves, in obvious terror from something looming on the horizon.
That thing is, of course, the Apocalypse, embodied in this case by the Blood Riders and Red Ship minions which hold the people of Babylon, New York, in their bloody grip. Kasey must find other survivors as she and Jack (the boy mentioned previously) weather the death of her mother and murder of the police who answered the call; the kidnapping of Jack and Kasey’s long, hard journey to retrieve him.
She picks up valuable help in her travels: Jennifer Wang, an ex-Marine M.D., Blair, just a professional guy trying to keep it together in the face of his wife’s death, and Aarika, the extremely practical, forward-thinking Indian kid who ran his uncle’s gas station until all hell broke loose.
All this leads to Douglas, the man who gave Kasey the amulet ten years ago. And he is the only one who can train her to weather the rigors to come as the world teeters and tips into oblivion.
Stefan Bolz has given us what he describes as a “very personal” story. It’s a poetic tale that draws readers in by dangling the myth of childhood as an idyllic, perfect, blissful state of being before us, and shatters it (and his characters) by smashing the mythology against the ugly, harsh face of disaster.
Suitable both for adult and YA audiences, my only complaint about Genesis is that the book ends on a cliff hanger: with Kasey taking a literal leap of faith in order to learn what she needs to harness the power of the White Dragon and save the world.
But that’s another (eagerly awaited) book.