- Big Big Sky
This sophisticated science-fiction novel explores subjugation, resistance, and the mutability of identity through the life-changing events of one small group of tight-knit female warriors. All of Earth is run by ScanMans, an alien race that saw the planet's imminent collapse and staked a claim on the remaining population. Rustle and her four companions are being raised to be aggressive, clever, and above all, obedient. However, when they spot their own destruction, a "deplugging" of their current brains, in the works, they resist all of their training and make a run for what seems an impossible freedom. Though none of the five finds anything resembling utopia or even true happiness, each concludes that even a brief, violent, tortured free life is preferable to imprisonment. This grim overall theme plays out elegantly in the hands of Canadian author Dunnion, who imbues each of the five teens with a haunting balance of well-developed individuality and "pod" connection that shapes their actions as they move in and out of each other's lives. In addition, the book vividly conveys the frightening glory of the open sky to five adolescents raised inside of a mountain training camp, adding atmosphere to the otherwise familiar landscape in which the escape plays out. The immediate immersion into a jargon-filled vocabulary and futuristic societal arrangement requires much of readers, but they will be more than compensated with this tension-filled, haunting tale.