by Darryl Sloan
An ancient Greek word (pronounced kai-on)
and spelled “chion” in the English alphabet.
It means “like snow.”
I didn't request a copy of this award winning book because I wasn't sure I would have time to read it. Since Darryl Sloan lives in Ireland, I didn't want him to go to the time and expense of mailing a copy across the Atlantic when I wasn't positive I'd get around to it. But then I learned that he offered an eBook and I decided to check it out. This way, if I didn't finish it, Darryl would not have wasted any money and neither of us would feel badly. So I downloaded the PDF file and started to skim it. Well, lemme tell ya, it SUCKS you in and never lets go. I read it all in one night because I just could not stop! At just over 41,000 words, it's about novella-length and a very fast read.
The premise is simple. What if a highly adhesive substance (think Ultra Super Glue) fell from the sky and looked just like snow? Whatever touches it, sticks. Permanently. It doesn't melt when the sun comes out either. You touch it with bare skin and you do not get away without leaving skin behind. Cars, buses, and trains are stranded everywhere, tires stuck. No one can leave their vehicles or buildings because shoes stick to it too. Worse of all, no airplanes or helicopters can land, so there's no hope of rescue. What happens when the food and water runs out?
The main character from whose point-of-view we see this all unfold is Jamie, a fourteen-year-old student who is at school when chion blankets Ireland and the UK. No one knows if it is a terrorist attack or some sort of apocalyptic plague. News reports seem to favor the former. Since Jamie's school is day-only, there is very little food in the cafeteria to give the hundreds of students who are stranded indefiitely while scientists and the government scramble to figure out what happened and how to deal with the crisis.
The plot is fast-moving and well thought-out, with very realistic reactions from all involved. It also struck me how fresh and original the idea was. This has got to be the first time there has ever been a "doomsday" device that masqueraded as something so simple as snow! I'm thankful Darryl didn't try to spell out what chemicals might work this way, because I would hate to think any real-life terrorists would get any ideas. The whole concept is truly frightening, which of course, made the book very compelling.
I don't want to spoil it by saying anything more, but I highly recommend this fast-reading little book!
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