The Prince Who Fell From the Sky
By John Claude Bemis
Expected publication May 22, 2012 by Random House
Casseomae has been an outsider of her clan for a long time now, living in relative peace in her own meadow. But her exile turns into a dangerous fight for her life when she rescues a Skinless One - a young child of a race that many believe destroyed the Earth.
I'm pretty sure I've expressed my ambivalence/slight dislike for talking animal books before, but if I haven't, I'll say it now - I'm not really crazy about them. In fact, most of the time, they annoy me. So, I'm not really sure what drove me to pick this one up at Midwinter. Maybe I figured I'd give it a chance. This book is being touted as a post-apocalyptic Jungle Book-esque tale for the tween set and it's not hard to see where this description comes from. However, this novel is not exactly that. Yes, it takes place in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic world, where humanity has vanished and nature has reclaimed the land. Animals live in warring clans - bears fighting wolves, rats trying to survive, and everyone hating dogs (for being "Faithful" - that is, loyal to humans). And yes, it is a survival tale. Casseomae, our main character, is a bear who adopts a young boy that has crashed near her meadow (after falling from the sky, as the title describes). Along with a begrudging rat named Dumpster, she embarks on a journey to find a home that will be safe for her adopted "cub." Of course, it's no easy journey, having to contend along the way with wolves and stranger beasts that she has never before seen. But to me, perhaps because the main characters are animals or perhaps for some other reason, it doesn't really read like other post-apocalyptic tales. Maybe it's because it's written for a younger audience. I'm not really sure. But I didn't feel that gripping, part-of-the-action, survival instinct while reading that I normally do. That being said, this is definitely a well-done book and I think it will be met eagerly by its intended audience. I would recommend this to fans of the Warriors series or Gregor the Overlander. I think kids are definitely going to enjoy this. They will love discovering the intricacies of this world without humans, as well as seeing how the boy's behavior and language confounds the animals (in fact, they don't understand him, so readers never know what the boy is saying). This was a surprising read for me.
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.