Elizabeth Varadan | The Children’s Book Review | January 28, 2016
Written by M. Quint
Illustrated by Lily Padula
Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: McSweeney’s (September 29, 2015)
What to Expect: A mysterious worldwide catastrophe, unusual adventures, former “loners” and misfits finding inner strengths as a team.
Seven classmates on a field trip from a school for difficult children gather at the San Francisco marina for a tour of the historic Defiant. The Defiant is a fifteenth-century caravel built and captained by the pirate-like Sir Francisco Ventana. Gabriel and Angelica live in a group home, where Angelica delights in making Gabriel miserable. The others, Esme, Carlos, Quincy, Rose, and Baron, live with their families but attend the school. All are in this school because they can’t fit in anywhere else.
While the tour guide is explaining the history of the ship, a pink glare crackles across the sky. The ship is suddenly tossed by churning waves. Angelica is swept overboard. San Francisco goes up in smoke, literally. The teacher and the tour guide vanish. The Defiant tears loose from its moorings, and the six survivors find themselves at sea.
Thus begins a journey that becomes a quest—for land, for safety, for other survivors. It’s a perilous journey, and they only learn to pull together as a team under the leadership of Gabriel and Esme. With the help of Gabriel’s translation of Ventana’s Codex, they learn to sail the caravel, fish for food, conserve rainwater, each member assuming different responsibilities. More than once they spot an island and go ashore, only to find the inhabitants are children who have formed a new and oppressive society. Angela spookily reappears more than once, and she’s brimming with hatred for Gabriel.
The pink glare remains unexplained, we never know why only the adults vanished, and the children’s fates are still uncertain at the end. But the book is mesmerizing. Young people will root for this unlikely crew as, one by one, each member meets challenges with growing maturity.
“With her head still bowed, Cam stood, hunched her shoulders, and stepped toward Marie, hands shoved deep into her pockets. After a moment, Gabriel caught a glimpse of her face. The terror there was clear.”
The Defiant will appeal to middle grade and young adult readers interested in adventure, mystery, and eerie situations.
Add this book to your collection: The Defiant
About the Author
M Quint lives in San Francisco, California.
The Defiant, written by M. Quint, was reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan. Discover more books like The Defiant by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Adventure, Books Set in San Francisco Bay Area, and Middle Grade Books.