A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie (Matched) is an action-adventure story about a teen ship captain who battles real enemies as well as her own grief and guilt. When Poe loses someone she loves, she devotes her life to avenging his death. She eventually becomes captain of a ship and finds herself battling raiders and possible traitors on her crew. The story has several scenes of fighting with fists and weapons, resulting in deaths and severe injuries. There is little strong language (only "dammit") and no drinking, smoking, or drug use. With its strong female characters -- the ship's captain, a machinist, and a cartographer -- the book avoids traditional gender stereotypes. Recurring themes of love, grief, resilience, and ethics offer good discussion topics.
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What's the story?
In THE LAST VOYAGE OF POE BLYTHE, Poe suffers a terrible loss during a voyage to dredge gold for her community, the Outpost. Her all-consuming grief leads Poe to dedicate her life to taking revenge on the raiders who ruined her life. She designs deadly defense weaponry for the Outpost's ships and eventually is named captain of the Lily, another gold-dredging ship. Her voyage brings her face to face with her hated enemies, but she also has to contend with her own inner demons and possible traitors lurking in her crew. The story follows Poe as she learns how to handle her new position of authority, including making quick life-or-death decisions and figuring out how to balance her mission with the well-being of her crew. She learns that issues aren't always as black and white as she's been led to believe. Has her obsession with revenge blinded her to important issues involving empathy, loyalty, and ethics?
Is it any good?
This exciting action-adventure story has lots of twists, turns, and suspense. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe deftly balances rousing action and intrigue. Poe is a young woman trying to command respect from her crew while also battling real enemies and grief-induced rage. The setting conjures up a steampunk-type world with interesting contraptions depicted alongside old-timey ships and weapons. Though it's an adventure tale, the story examines the human, political, and environment consequences of gathering and hoarding resources.
Author Ally Condie effectively shows the complicated gray areas between political right and wrong, which kicks this story up a rung from other action-oriented books. Poe is a strong, complicated female character who matures emotionally during her short journey. Her inner thoughts of revenge and paranoia start to wear thin at times, and a reveal falls flat, but the overall pace and content of the story are engaging, thought-provoking, and fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the portrayal of villains in The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe. Do you like stories in books and movies and on TV where there are obvious good and bad sides? Or is it more interesting when you have some sympathy for and insight into the supposed villains in the story?
Have you given much thought to the price of war and the harvesting of natural resources -- beyond the financial cost? How are communities and human lives affected, and for how long? And what about the environmental cost?
Have you heard the phrase "The ends justify the means"? What do you think about that? Can you think of instances where it's true and others where it isn't acceptable?
- Author: Ally Condie
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: March 26, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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