Ben has never understood why he was not quite like everybody else. He is smaller than average and sometimes needs an inhaler to breath, but what really puzzles him is that he never feels like he fits in. Typical eleven year old? Perhaps. But in a country ruled by the mysterious “Ebony” leader Lumen in which social and political indoctrination is the primary objective of school, not even an unassuming middle school boy can afford to be different.
Ben has two havens from which he gains the strength to deal with social difficulties: his family life and ice surfing. His parents have always supported him and taught him many things no longer taught in school, like English. English was outlawed after a racial war in which Lumen and his army overthrew the oppressive, ruling “dilute” class. His fellow ice surfers have a bond that supercedes any and all convention, and they accept Ben unconditionally. When Ben discovers that his mother has been helping an old dilute woman and his father sneaks out of the house after curfew, his whole world is turned upside down. How could his parents engage in illegal activity and associate with sub-human beings? The final straw comes, however, when the government begins arresting independent-minded surfers. Ben now feels he has no one on whom he can rely, except himself.
This first book in Kevin Aldrich’s dystopian series includes many unexpected turns that keep his audience guessing. He demonstrates the irrational nature of all racism as well as the absurdity of a “benevolent dictatorship”. Although the book, unfortunately, contains many typos and editing oversights which presumably will be amended in the next printing, readers will want to know when the next installment of Ben’s adventures will be published.
Jennifer Minicus is a teacher and mother living in Ridgewood, NJ.