Title: One Sunny Night
Author: Charon Dunn
Genre: YA Science Fiction
This coming-of-age story tells how Leroy “Sonny” Knight grows and adapts following a terrorist attack during a clashball game. The story is set in a futuristic version of the world: Earth has suffered from meteors and the Americas have been split into new islands and countries, some of which don’t get along.
Sonny was hoping to meet a famous sports hero, but instead, he falls and nearly dies. In the ensuing confusion, he tries to rescue a screaming young woman and ends up witnessing an attack on the country’s president—though who actually killed him remains a bit of a mystery.
But there’s no time to deal with the aftermath of the assassination, as cloned terrorists burst into the room. Sonny and his new companions escape and find a fast ship that will take them away from the mayhem and destruction, but Sonny soon discovers that not everything is as it seems.
A captured clone turns out to be nicer than his hatred can believe, and even worse, she seems to like him. His family is alive, being used to boost the citizen count so the nation of clones can remain a player in international politics, and they want him to come to their new home…or so they claim. And meantime, he has to survive cattle stampedes, and pliosaurs, and being shipwrecked, and everything else.
The beginning of this story is a bit confusing, as the third-person narration is mostly from Sonny’s point of view, and at that point, he’s injured and still used to letting adults deal with problems. So he doesn’t really help one understand and process what’s going on until he’s on the ship, sailing away from the invasion.
The story is actually fairly thoughtful and slower-paced for young-adult science fiction. Sonny gets stuck on a number of islands, delaying his quest of getting back home and trying to help save his family from their new nation. In the meantime, he learns to cook fish, to navigate boats, and to pay attention and think for himself, but overall, the pacing reminds one more of Robinson Crusoe or Westward Ho! than Divergent or Hunger Games.
Along the way, the story provides an intriguing look at the futuristic world, as Sonny visits a range of countries: one engulfed in social media which considers everything public, one that considers everything private, and one that is far more interested in enjoying nature and living off the land.
While plenty of questions remain at the end, it still feels like progress was made on the larger quest of saving Sonny’s family. However, the climax did feel rather rushed, as though the author was hurrying through it and trying not to make the story any longer.
One Sunny Night is a well-written tale of adventure, exploration, and a growing understanding of how the world works. The world-building is very creative, and adults readers will enjoy the politics that Sonny finds himself in, where everyone has an opinion of what he should do…and doesn’t always consult him in the process.
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