By Virginia Bergin
Published by Macmillan
One minute, 16-year-old Ruby is enjoying an outdoor party with her friends; the next minute all hell breaks loose.
The skies darken, and Ruby and her gang are dragged indoors by adults panicking for no apparent reason at all. Everyone crowds into the kitchen to listen to emergency news bulletins on the radio.
All over Britain, it has started to rain. And the rain contains a poison that will burn and kill. To stay safe, people must stay indoors and, most importantly, stay dry. Whatever is happening?
Virginia Bergin's new dystopian novel, The Rain, starts off in top gear and tries hard to stay on course until the end. Or is it the end?
Years ago, an asteroid was about to crash into our planet, but it was obliterated by quick action from America and China. The asteroid was blown up into dust.
But now this dust is falling down to Earth in the rain. Every drop of this deadly water can infect the human body and eat it from inside out. Mankind has never had to face a threat like this before.
Ruby is a typical teen caught in an awful situation. She gets back home from the party, only to find her mother and young brother have already died in the rain. Simon, her step-father, is alone in the house and things are desperate.
The two leave and go into town when the rain stops falling. They head for the local supermarket to stock up on food, but looters have already been there and the store is ransacked.
Roads into the town are blocked with abandoned cars, some containing dead bodies. Ruby and Simon struggle back home to work out a plan for survival.
The beginning of The Rain offers as exciting an opening and set-up as any dystopian novel, and the prospects for a thrilling read look good. But the problem is Ruby narrates her own story, as if she were recounting her adventures to the reader personally.
Having everything told from Ruby's point of view cuts a lot of the potential out of the story. This is a disaster situation, and Ruby's one-dimensional narration somehow trivialises what is going on.
The familiar teen-talk works well for the opening, but soon becomes a drag. Some might not have a problem, but for others the girl's voice will be distracting. This is a big story, and Ruby's voice is small.
A wider view would have turned The Rain into a true contender for YA Dystopian Novel of the Year.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com