Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Alex Award Watch and Teen Review: Underground Airlines by Ben Winters



Our Alex Award Watch posts focus on highlighting books from the adult section that may appeal to older teens.  
Today we have a guest reviewer from a teen volunteer at Westover Branch Library. Thanks to Marta for sharing her review!
Underground Airlines by Ben Winters 
When I was a kid, one of my favorite hobbies was to annoy people with 'What If?' questions. What if everybody had four arms? What if people biked everywhere instead of driving? What if all the clocks stopped at noon? What if we could float on water like feathers? Than what would happen? Unfortunately for my friends and teachers, I haven't grown out of the habit. Hardly a day goes by in history class without me asking something like, What if Franz Ferdinand had never been assassinated? or, What if Hitler had never come to power?

I love the endless possibilities, the fact that for every event or circumstance that has occurred, something could have gone just a little bit differently, and the world I know today would be completely unfamiliar. That's why I thought Underground Airlines by Ben Winters was absolutely amazing. Basically, it's set in present day, except one key event never took place. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated before he could issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

In America, slavery still continues in four states, called the "Hard Four,” and Victor, a former slave, is given a choice: return to slavery or work as a bounty hunter for the US marshals, hunting down escaped slaves. He completes dozens of missions, until he is given an assignment that has the potential to change society as he knows it.

Not only is this book full of details about events and people that have developed differently because of the change in the timeline (think Martin Luther King, Jr., the Constitution, imports to other countries) but it also has a page-turning plot, well-developed characters, and thought-provoking moral challenges. I couldn't recommend it more.
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