The Scavengers

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
The Scavengers Book Poster Image
Tough tween girl fights to save family in bleak future.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will be introduced to Emily Dickinson poems. Could inspire discussions among tweens of what their versions of the future look like.  

Positive Messages

Working together makes life better for everyone. Help your neighbor. Decide for yourself the kind of life you want to lead.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Maggie is hardworking, tough, loyal, and loving. She has a smart mouth and is willing to get her hands dirty fighting solar bears and GreyDevils. She also loves poetry and uses some of the money she gets from town to buy special tea her mother loves.

Violence

Maggie and her crew use various homemade weapons to beat and subdue GreyDevils, zombie-like people who attack them first. Officers from the Bubble Cities ransack Maggie's home and beat her disabled brother; after the attack he begins to have seizures. Later, they beat up her elderly neighbor. Maggie's dad tells her about ripping a computer chip from his face. Maggie and her friend fight and kill a solar bear; she suffers a head wound during the attack. 

Sex
Language

"Butt." Maggie calls her brother "Dookie."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters are addicted to drinking "homemade hooch" called PartsWash, which turns them into zombie-like creatures called GreyDevils.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Scavengers takes place in a dystopian future and stars a tween girl. Older tweens will get more out of this book, including understanding the links between our current world and the one author Michael Perry creates. Maggie knows many people are addicted to drinking "homemade hooch" called PartsWash, which turns them into zombie-like creatures called GreyDevils. She and her crew use various homemade weapons to beat and subdue GreyDevils. Officers from the Bubble Cities ransack Maggie's home and beat her disabled brother; after the attack he begins to have seizures. Later, they beat up her elderly neighbor. Maggie and her friend fight and kill a crazy hybrid creature called a solar bear, and she suffers a head wound during the attack. Maggie is hardworking, loyal, loving, and tough, but she also loves Emily Dickinson poems. There's a message about working together to make life better for everyone -- and about the importance of being able to choose the life that makes you happy. 

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What's the story?

Tough Maggie -- who calls herself Ford Falcon after the car she sleep in -- lives with her family outside protected Bubble Cities. It's not an easy life, to say the least: Her world is overrun with zombie-like GreyDevils and scary hybrid solar bears, and her family scrapes together a life mostly by searching through an old trash pile to salvage goods they can trade. A kindly, and handy, neighbor and his wife make life more bearable, as do simple pleasures, such as digging up a Porky Pig piggy bank she knows will get a good price or drinking tea and reading Emily Dickinson poems with her mom. But when she comes home one day to find her home ransacked and her parents missing, she ends up on a wild adventure to save her family, along the way discovering secrets about the mysterious Bubble Cities and who her dad really is and, ultimately, learning what kind of life she wants to live.

Is it any good?

Maggie's a great character who loves reading poetry with her mom, looks after her younger disabled brother, and can fight solar bears and GreyDevils. She also throws zingers at top Bubble City officials when they face off ("You're out of cards, Lard-O," she says to the unctuous, obese politician). Readers who like dystopian stories will find a realistic portrait of the future in THE SCAVENGERS, including weird weather patterns caused by pollution and scientifically modified (and corporate-patented) food with amazing healing powers. They might not be as convinced by the GreyDevils, who are really human drug addicts but behave a lot like stereotypical zombies.

Maggie's life of scavenging and bartering is tough, but readers will be intrigued by all the details about how she survives, including the cool tools she makes, such as a jacklight, "which is the pioneer version of a flashlight." In the end, much -- but not everything -- is resolved, and readers likely will be rooting for a sequel to hear more about the girl who calls herself Ford Falcon.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the depiction of the future in The Scavengers. Does anything in Maggie's world seem possible, or is it all far-fetched?

  • Do you think it's helpful for kids and teens to read dystopian books that depict rather bleak or corrupt future societies? 

  • Would you rather live under a bubble with a government you don't quite trust or fend for yourself without any government protection?

Book details

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