Genre: MG/YA science fiction
In HS Stone’s In the Hands of Children we’re treated to a near-future, almost apocalyptic tale with real possibilities. The H5N1 virus has struck, leaving the globe devoid of adults, and only prepubescent children are left alive to pick up the pieces. It’s a harrowing tale of loss and the need to keep going. Hope, death, life, and sorrow intermingle throughout.
Stone does a great job in getting us to care about the struggles of the children in this new world by introducing us to them pre-virus, and we witness small characteristics that end up making a huge difference once the virus strikes. Kyle, Hannah, and her nine-year-old sister Amy embark on a journey that takes them from their disparate hometowns to San Francisco, where hope survives in the form of Youth Centers designed to maintain civilization however they can. The biggest problem the trio finds is that the boys in charge of the youth center are little more than bullies who maintain control through fear and threats. This doesn’t sit well with Kyle, who abhors bullying, but in the interest in keeping his new friends safe, he does nothing.
The book has a Lord of the Flies feel to it, and I think it’s fair, given that children are trying to be adults while still thinking like children. The bullies of the San Francisco youth center try to act for the greater good, but in the end, they reveal themselves to be power-hungry sociopaths, likely overwhelmed by their status in the new world. There’s a lot of emotion contained in Stone’s book, and it’s one that I think fans of post-apocalyptic tales and heroic children will enjoy.
In the Hands of Children is available at: