Preteen Read: The Roar by Emma Clayton

In Mika's world, if you mention the word "animals", everyone will shudder in fear. There has been a horrible plague, and the only way to keep the vicious human-eating animals and the poisonous gas out is to build an enormous wall to surround the remaining humans. The city is now divided into levels, and only the richest and the most powerful get to be on the top in the Golden Turrets. Everyone else is kept down in The Shadows and deprived of the basic human needs. 
Life is tough to say the least, so when the kids were offered a chance to win money and prizes for their families by playing a simulation video game, everyone excitedly enters the competition. Mika is also hoping to win, not just because he wants a better life for his parents, but he also believes that somehow through this contest, he's going to find his twin sister Ellie. Everyone tells Mika that Ellie is dead, but he knows that's not true. He can sense her. She's got to be somewhere...
It's one of those "wake up in the middle of the night and can't get to sleep" nights that I started The Roar, and that was a bad, bad idea, 'cause I couldn't stop reading. The book opens with a breathtaking pod fighter chase scene (Star Wars anyone?) and ends with a chilling cliffhanger (yes it's a series), and it's full of mysteries in between. The plot will satisfy all different kinds of readers: those who like their government conspiracies, those who like dystopian worlds, those who like some good video game action, those who like an evil villain who seems pretty invincible... Even though lots of things you suspect or are told right off are not quite resolved till much later, for this book it really is the journey that counts. It's a 500-pager, probably could stand to be edited a bit so there are fewer details and themes that don't quite fit the main story and kept me wondering, "where did that come from?". Maybe in the sequel. There are a few characters I'd like to see more of for sure. 

Have to get a hold of that sequel The Whisper, which came out in February 2012. 
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