Author: Karen Hesse
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Fiewel & Friends
Age Rating: Readers over 11
My Opinion: 5/10
As you can probably tell from the novels I've reviewed previously, I absolutely love dystopian novels. However, the best part about them is the action - there is always a new adventure or threat to deal with. Karen Hesse's novel, Safekeeping, is a dystopian novel that seems to be devoid of action. It has a fantastic cover blurb, but the novel itself is lackluster.
Radley has spent the past few months volunteering at a children's orphanage in Haiti. Now that she is ready to return to the United States, she discovers that she has missed a lot while she was gone. After a number of airport security increases, Radley learns that the American People's Party has taken control of the government and that many "threats to the country" have been arrested. As soon as she gets home, Radley faces another harsh reality - her parents are gone. Without any money or safety, she embarks on a journey north to Canada to find shelter and safety. Along the way, Radley meets a young woman named Celia, and the two travel together. Radley must come to the realization that her beloved country has taken a turn for the worse, and she cannot trust anyone to help her find her parents.
Safekeeping is a very unique novel due to the fact that it includes a collection of Karen Hesse's original photography to enhance the writing. Hesse's photographs are nice to look at, but in my personal opinion, they do not add to the novel in any way. This is because the pictures were not taken especially for the novel. Therefore, some of the pictures do not match up with Hesse's setting descriptions. At times, the large photographs take up room that should be filled with text. I would have preferred if Hesse would have worked more on her plot development than her illustrative photography.
Although the characters in Safekeeping are fairly deep and interesting to read about, the novel has no real plot line except for the fact that Radley takes a journey to Canada. She faces no intense hardships along the way, and most of the time, she is practically handed food and shelter. Also, she hardly even searches for her parents. The novel's ending comes up out of nowhere, and it is tied together too perfectly.
It seems like Hesse just wanted to jump on the dystopian bandwagon, and her unexciting plot line and irrelevant photographs do not combine for a fun summer read.