Friday, 2 February 2018

The Winnowing


Author: Vikki Vansickle

Genre: Middle School, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Suspense, Dystopian, Canadian
Type: Paperback
Pages: 312
Source: Personal copy
Publisher: Scholastic Canada
First Published: September 1, 2017
First Line: "I'm flying."

Book Description from GoodReads: Marivic Stone lives in a small world, and that’s fine with her. Home is with her beloved grandfather in a small town that just happens to be famous for a medical discovery that saved humankind — though not without significant repercussions. Marivic loves her best friend, Saren, and the two of them promise to stick together, through thick and thin, and especially through the uncertain winnowing procedure, a now inevitable — but dangerous — part of adolescence.

But when tragedy separates the two friends, Marivic is thrust into a world of conspiracy, rebellion and revolution. For the first time in her life, Marivic is forced to think and act big. If she is going to right a decade of wrongs, she will need to trust her own frightening new abilities, even when it means turning her back on everything, and everyone, she’s known and loved. A gripping exploration of growing up, love and loss, The Winnowing is a page-turning adventure that will have readers rooting for their new hero, Marivic Stone, as they unravel the horror and intrigue of a world at once familiar but with a chilling strangeness lurking beneath the everyday.


My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet Vikki Vansickle at the Ontario Library Association (OLA) Super Conference in Toronto. She came to our booth for a book signing and quickly had a long line of fans.  Some came for a free signed copy after already reading and enjoying The Winnowing, while others came because they've heard the increasing buzz surrounding this book which has been short-listed for a Forest of Reading Red Maple award.




While this book has a strong Sci-Fi vibe, readers (like myself) who aren't avid Sci-Fi readers, will also enjoy it. The Winnowing is a blend of Sci-Fi, suspense, a wee bit of history, a healthy dose of nail-biting adventure and focuses on topics such as friendship, loyalty and finding strengths within ourselves. 


There are intense scenes and an eerie feel to the book, but it isn't filled with graphic violence and thankfully omits the popular romantic triangle. Instead, Vansickle focuses on a story filled with twists (some which surprised me and one that I saw coming), nail-biting scenes and a unique premise. The writing is atmospheric and descriptive with a plot that's fairly detailed and I appreciate that Vansickle doesn't talk down to her young readers. 


As for the characters, they were a diverse bunch. The main character, Marivic (whose name, I admit, took me a bit to get used to) is a well-rounded, likable character who doesn't wait around for a boy to save the day. She has believable flaws and struggles with some of her relationships, but she was easy to get behind. The same can also be said for other characters (I'm looking at you Ren and Gumps) who intrigued me so much with their backstories that I'm hopeful that this standalone book will be made into a series.


The Winnowing is a good choice for kids who want the adventure and energy of The Hunger Games-type books but who may not be ready to jump into that level of violence. While I would have liked a bit more focus on the historical aspects, this book has enough suspense and depth to its story that it will keep teen and even 'more seasoned' readers intrigued as well. 


The Winnowing is a blend of Sci-Fi, Dystopian and Suspense which will easily appeal to conspiracy loving fans of The X Files (Vansickle is a big fan herself) and Stranger Things but also to people who just want a good story to dive into.

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