Steve Augarde, 2009. Baz lives in the near future when the world has been seriously damaged by flooding, and he and his dad are starving. Their only hope is that Baz will be chosen to go to a nearby island where, it’s said, young boys can earn three meals a day by putting in a little hard work. Our hero is, of course, selected, and he, of course, learns that life on the island isn’t as cushy as he’d hoped. Yes, it’s another futuristic dystopian teen novel, and a real page-turner. I couldn’t quite read its 477 pages in a single night, but almost.
The queer content is pretty subtle; these boys aren’t even at puberty yet, but Baz finds himself strangely drawn to Ray, one of the other boys on the island. He can’t figure out why, since he’s always liked girls. Of course, in the end, we learn SPOILER that Ray is really a girl named Rachel END SPOILER, but it’s not played like “Hurrah, Baz is normal after all.” In fact, he feels normal the whole time; there’s no sense of dread that he might be gay, although there is some anxiety around the other boys finding out. I loved the way this was handled, and it’s an action-packed read that would be great for the reluctant except for its length. Would make a great classroom read-aloud too. Highly recommended for all public and school libraries.