Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: The Unquiet

Publish January 12, 2016

In Mikaela Everett’s richly imagined debut, The Unquiet, two parallel Earths exist, but only one can survive. Unbeknownst to Earth I, Earth II is gradually disappearing, and has implemented a strategy to ensure its own survival. Select children on Earth II are trained to kill and replace their alternate selves on Earth I, then live as “sleepers,” waiting for the inevitable declaration of war. At fourteen, Lirael Harrison has spent most of her life training to be the Lirael from Earth I, who did not live in an orphanage, but had a home, and a family, and was loved. As Lirael prepares to replace her alternate, she knows her survival will depend on her ability to mercilessly repress her own feelings and avoid making attachments. But years of cruel and unrelenting instruction could not prepare Lirael for life with a family and her first real glimpse of happiness. As she assumes the role of a beloved child, Lirael begins to question her mission, and the betrayals and violence it will entail. Desolate and haunting, The Unquiet unfolds with a poetic lyricism that is beautiful, yet almost visceral in its understated violence. Everett’s complex narrative captures the disturbed mind of an abused child, and her story will appeal to mature readers looking for a challenging read. Though Everett’s setting and tone are impeccable, the story suffers from uneven pacing, and the incredibly slow plot development may not sustain the attention of reluctant readers. Well-developed characters and meaty ethical questions provide a refreshing break from the more common action-driven plots in YA dystopian literature, resulting in a promising and provoking debut.

The Unquiet

Mikaela Everett
Greenwillow Publishers
ISBN 13: 978-006-238-127-9

Karen Doerksen
Karen Doerksen Karen Doerksen lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta with her husband and four children. She works for the Edmonton Public Library, and holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Alberta.  

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