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Reviewed by Lex Allen for Readers' Favorite
In Kevin Killiany’s sci-fi novel, Down to Dirt, Mom and Dad have decreed that daughter Mara, born in space, must spend her vacation with relatives on Dirt (that would be the future planet Earth). Mara, her cousin Beth, and best friend Jael tell the story through their individual diary entries. As an African-American girl, Jael is among the lowest of the low denizens on Dirt. In this future world, blacks suffer indignities beyond what people of this race suffered in years past. Still, she’s Beth’s best friend and Mr. Killiany capitalizes on the positive and negative themes such a friendship would create. Mara, with multiple prejudices concerning Dirt, tries to fit into her new environment and Killiany adeptly weaves each of these strands together with a critical view on how our world could look in the future. As Mara works through issues concerning a new school, developing a relationship with Beth and Jael, along with the typical boy/girl ups and downs, she also has to learn to handle weather changes and the ever present gravity. The three teenage girls soon develop a bond and work together to make their lives and the lives of the citizens of Dirt better.
There are wordsmiths who craft amazingly accurate sentences that read like a delicious chocolate mousse on the tongue and then, there is Kevin Killiany. There are great storytellers who succeed despite their reversal of the “show, don’t tell” rule and then again, there is Kevin Killiany. I generally have a hard time reading stories where events are more told than shown, but Down to Dirt was such an entertaining and effortless read, that I am pleased to admit I’ve seldom read a novel this close to perfection. Everything you could want in a YA, coming of age, sci-fi, dystopian world drama is here, put together for your reading pleasure by a talented and masterful writer. Do yourself a favor and read Down to Dirt by Kevin Killiany.