Review by Ivy M.

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In the Age of the Fly, there are many laws. Love, but do not fall in love. Sing songs, read books of lives fulfilled, but do not wish to fill your own. The world is large, the mile long, and time stands still. Here, in the ancient gasp of trees, rocks, rivers, sky, the young are left to their own devices. Their cities are ruin. Their families are dust. Their histories lost. And in the dark woods of the world, they find a parasitic element embedded in their most basic code: You will hurt others, and others will hurt you.”

from The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold

The world has been ruined by the swarms of mutant flies that now cover it, which can not only infect humans with “Fly Flu,” but also eat them alive. Nico was born four months before the onset of the flies and has lived her entire life in a boarded-up farmhouse. Kit was born during the pandemic and has grown up in an abandoned town. And The Deliverer is spending their 160th life in the cabin on the mountainside, as they always have. But the day is coming when these three parties will intersect, and their combined destinies will reshape the way each views their strange futures.

I didn’t know what to expect from The Electric Kingdom. While I’d loved David Arnold’s previous novel, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik, this book’s bland cover and somewhat generic comparisons (The 5th Wave) had me wondering if this book would provide something beyond teens heroically surviving a pandemic.

The Electric Kingdom certainly takes its time, slowly introducing each perspective, unraveling their history bit by bit all the way until the end. I was never bored, though, and was deeply invested in the three plotlines, their intersection feeling like the crossover of the century. And yes, the rumors are true: this book made me cry a lot! The emotion of the end was the biggest surprise for me and made this book one of my new favorites. Overall, this book was full of fantastic, dramatic twists, coupled with consistent moments of sincerity and connection in a desolate wasteland. David Arnold is once again pushing the bounds of YA with his novel’s complexity and creativity. Don’t let its slightly bland cover and title fool you: The Electric Kingdom is a standout.

Rating: 5 very good dogs/5