It’s pretty easy at the moment to imagine the end of the world as we know it. On a day to day basis, though, not many of us worry about a tremendous alien spaceship turning up to steal our air and water, and ultimately causing the breakdown of the entire planet.
M. Drewery, it seems, thinks about that quite a bit. I mean, he created an entire novel around the idea.
Stolen Futures is a crazy adventure novel through space, narrated by a (mostly) fifteen-year-old boy, Callum Tasker. Earth is completely destroyed by a mysterious ship aptly named the Destroyer, and a couple of hundred fifteen-year-old children, one from every country, are chosen to be saved and continue the human race on another planet.
Pretty daunting, so it’s lucky that someone a bit older emerges to help them. He calls himself One, and is a young man with super-enhanced muscles and others’ memories implanted into his brain to give him all the skills needed to protect the kids.
They face a number of enemies, which is kind of surprising considering they saw the earth literally break apart, taking all its life with it. Rogue builders, soldiers and ministers show up demanding to be part of this new Earth, and they will do anything – including taking the lives of the children – to ensure their own survival.
Callum helps One to lead his new friends through all these obstacles, until a quite crucial problem turns everything on its head. There is a bomb on their spaceship, and no way of getting it out safely. One leads Callum to a cryo-chamber and seals him inside, ensuring that at least one speck of humanity survives the explosion.
Callum experiences an intense dream-like state before eventually waking up with a fairly odd-looking creature in front of him. He breaks out of the chamber, realising he has a newfound strength thanks to his now being a full-grown adult with alien augmentations to his body. Aside from muscles in a similar advanced state to One’s, he now has the ability to photosynthesise, as plants do, so that he can last for longer without food.
The only issue now is that he is captive on this alien planet, with no information about how it works or what they plan to do with him. No biggie, really. He escapes with a group of very unusual companions resembling everything from a stone to a praying mantis, and leaves to try to find safety. Thanks to a bit of time travel, he finds himself back with other humans, but not without some sacrifice.
In general the plot is quite fast-paced and easy to follow – there are no boring interludes lazing around on the spaceship, and a select group of children are introduced so that there isn’t an overwhelming amount of names to learn.
There are some chapters written in a diary style, explaining how the situation involving the Earth’s destruction and the saviour children came to be. For me, this would have been better either told as exposition or dropped in alongside the current narrative, rather than being separate. It didn’t seem to work just because nothing came of these parts – they just faded out when we had been given all the background knowledge we needed.
Aside from that, the narration was convincing and gripping, and the entire novel was just easy to read. I was very glad that there weren’t many new names (of planets, aliens, technologies etc) to get used to, because the story flows so much more easily and naturally without them. Stolen Futures is a great little story about a child’s brave attempt to do his people proud in the aftermath of a total apocalypse.