While Nyeta is kayaking on a river in the wilderness with her schoolmates not far from the outdoor pursuits school they attend, a massive quake turns the earth inside out, cracks it wide open.
Cold, shocked and terrified, the six surviving students set off on a terrifying journey to find help.
Along the way, they encounter boiling rivers, erupting mountains, dead and dying animals, the unhinged, those who have already turned to the dark side and a gentle hermit deep in the ranges. They have to fight, hunt, care for their wounds and learn tolerance and self-sacrifice.
Excellent book with Universal Appeal! (Laura Masciarelli) – 5 stars
“I recently read and reviewed a book, Fierce Mind, which I loved so much that I downloaded another of the author’s books, hoping for the same level of thought-provoking entertainment. Upheaval did not disappoint. It’s another five-star, incredible book! Within pages of the opening there is a devastating earthquake in New Zealand that leaves seventeen-year-old Nyeta and five classmates stranded alone in the wilderness.
The book chronicles the teens’ interactions as they make their way towards the nearest city, hoping to find their families untouched by the devastation. They pass through farms and small towns, all in ruins. They deal with life-threatening injuries, encounter sinister looters, and experience the horror of coming across the dead victims of the earthquake. Nyeta and her friends have to handle decisions that will decide whether each of them lives or dies. Their only hope, as they forage through rough terrain, is that they’ll find help in the city when they reach it. They have an inkling that all is not well in the city when they witness airliners crashing, running out of fuel when they can’t find a place to land.
The book moved along quickly and kept me at the edge of my seat as the story drew me in, into the shock and fear of the situation. The way the survivors of the surrounding towns quickly organized, becoming defensive and ready to kill for the remaining resources, could easily have turned Upheaval into a nightmarish story. But, the kindness between the teens and the sweet, caring romance that developed between Nyeta and Darryl made Upheaval more a story of friendships that strengthen through adversity.
Survival stories don’t usually appeal to me. When I think “survival story” I think of Gary Paulson’s books. His books, although engaging and well-written, never grabbed my interest, probably because I think of them as “boy books.” And, there aren’t many “boy books” out there. So many teen novels are written from a girl protagonist’s point of view and involve subject matter that truly doesn’t interest boys. So, as I was reading Upheaval, it occurred to me that although it is written from a girl’s point of view, teen boys would love this book.
Besides having universal appeal, I enjoyed how each character’s personality unfolded as their challenges brought out their strengths. And, I especially grew to love Marsh as he started out as a self-centered jerk, but became a staunch protector of the group.
Things I liked: The protectiveness and caring among Nyeta and her friends, the suspense as the teens near the city, James, the unusual character they encounter, and the thought-provoking, moral decisions Nyeta has to make.
Things I didn’t like: I was somewhat irked by Nyeta’s fixation on finding adults who would care for them. But, I suppose if I were seventeen, I might be looking for adults and assuming they’d help too.
Overall: Truly terrific, ultra-engaging book that would appeal to teen boys as well as teen girls, but is also a crossover book that adults would love too.”
An absolute cracker (Kris Pearson) – 5 stars
“This is not the sort of book I usually read, but a friend mentioned it and I got intrigued. What a ripper! I walked every step of the way with those teenage survivors, and loved the story. It’s vividly written and very thought-provoking. Yes, it’s fantasy, but totally compelling. It’s the invention of a clever mind, and if you have to suspend your disbelief, then so be it. Go along for the ride. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.”
~~The Earth Shook and the Rivers Boiled ~~ (Serenity) – 4 stars
“Teenagers at an Outdoor Pursuits School are in the midst of tragedy and devastation. A few of the lucky (?) ones were kayaking and able to flee upwards into the hills.
This is a story of teenage survival against all odds. This group consists of 6 and are all different in personalities. Nyeta, age 17, is the only one with any sort of medical experience. Ethical questions come to surface when treating some severely injured survivors.
The reader will take a leap of faith when Nyeta slips and falls a great distance. Just put your imagination into high gear and go along for the drop!
I liked the interactions of these teenagers trying to adapt in a new world. Just knowing each other in passing prior to this quake, they had to adapt as a group in order to survive. Shelter, food and water were paramount in their minds.. Plus, they all wanted to get to the CITY to see if any of their family members survived.
Wait until you meet James! He is a story by himself…. A true survivor of previous hardship(s)!
The river stretched out as still and clean as a sheet of glass. Kayaking these waters, using my arms to propel me, made me believe life didn’t completely suck.
Bad-boy Marsh, sitting behind me in the kayak, kept breaking the silence to curse me when I slacked off in the paddling department. And I understood his frustration. Eight other kayaks slid through the water well ahead of us, driven by muscles stronger than mine. But what did he expect? I’d attended this outdoor pursuits school for only a term and it was my third time in a kayak.
A flock of birds erupted from a nearby grove of trees, squawking in fear, wings flapping hard. I stopped paddling, startled at the sudden explosion of sound and looked about me. The leaves were turning as summer slid into fall, all gold and orange. Silence again.
“Don’t think I’m doing all the work. Keep paddling,” Marsh snapped.
I glanced back at him, at the frown of concentration on his face, his powerful arms pumping the paddle. I didn’t really know him, had been paired with him by the instructor. A weak with a strong I imagined to be the policy.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Those birds…”
A deer shot out of the trees, fled across the open grass. Another appeared at the rise of the hill, headed downward at full gallop. Dread uncurled inside my stomach.
“Something’s not right,” I whispered, afraid to speak up in case that made it come true.
“Whatever,” Marsh replied. “Now paddle or we’ll lose the others.”
I looked at the kayaks well ahead, flashes of yellow which all of a sudden seemed grossly out of place. Only the kayak with that red-haired boy, Josh, and Darryl, broody son of the Romanian ambassador, remained close to us. That was because Josh was like me – skinny, no muscles.
Marsh dug me in the back. “Paddle, damn-it.”
I flinched at the jab. Marsh always swept clear a path around him with his scowls and, if necessary, his fists. I had never given him the time of day and here I was forced to kayak on the river with him.
A rumble broke the silence, came from out of nowhere. I froze in mid-action, my mouth hanging open in disbelief. The sound increased to a roar, like a jet plane rolling down the river towards us. The dread ignited into fear.
Marsh stopped paddling too. “This is not cool.”
I couldn’t speak at all, my voice box paralyzed. The roar gathered momentum, swooped through the valley.
Darryl and Josh had ceased moving too, their paddles drooping in the water.
Our kayak rolled, and I grabbed the side as water sloshed into the boat. I tried to scream but no sound came. The river moved, waves rising like humpback whales from the still calm. The sound intensified, claustrophobic in its intensity. I looked up at the mountain beyond the hills. A black scar of lava bubbled up from the crater, curled down through the snow, the leading edge flickered with fingers of fire. I stared, horrified.
“Get off the river, climb high,” our instructor shouted as he sped past, his paddle dipping and rising as he rode the waves, racing ahead to warn the others.
His voice galvanized me into action. I dug deep, turned the kayak and paddled. Marsh responded and we pitched across the water towards shore.
Ahead, the land wavered in time with our rolling – rocks dislodged, fell, trees swayed, shaking their roots.
Darryl and Josh’s kayak stayed alongside us, sunlight glancing off their straining arms as they struggled for control. Their wild eyes reflected back my fear, increasing my own.
Upstream, shots of yellow flashed as the other kayaks fought against the waves. The instructor had reached them and they had turned but they were far from the shore.
The roar was so unreal now I could feel its vibrations in my bones. The waves rolled high. Screams came from upstream. I hoped they paddled fast. My muscles burned as I fought the powerful force of this treacherous water.
“Keep it steady,” I shrieked at Marsh.
“What the hell do you think I’m trying to do?” he growled back.
I mightn’t know him well, but now I needed him as I had never needed anyone. “What’s happening?” I groaned.
“An earthquake, of course.”
“But the mountain.”
“Look out,” Marsh shouted.
I looked to the side, and died inside. A curling wave bore down on us. The muddy khaki monster hovered, playing with its power, mesmerizing me. I relaxed, the inevitability of it turning my limbs to putty, flexible and useless.
It broke. The wave hit like a falling wall, flinging me from the kayak. Down, down, I went, the water beating me, ripping at me. I hit the stony riverbed, tumbled along, my body like seaweed waving in a stream. Bubbles burst past my face, clouding my vision. My lungs burned, a ball of fire in my chest. I needed air. I craved air.