Library Journal on Elk’s Run
Fialkov, Joshua Hale (text) & Noel Tuazon & Scott A. Keating (illus.). Elk's Run. Villard: Random. 2007. ISBN 978-0-345-49511-2. pap. $19.95. FFor a group of disillusioned Vietnam vets, isolationist utopia in a hidden West Virginia valley is "like heaven"—for a time. But small problems grow larger as the valley children mature and dreams dissolve into violence and flames. When a man tries to escape from the valley to join his estranged wife, he accidentally kills a town teen and is horribly executed by tough-ass leader John for violating the town's isolationist "agreement." Then two state troopers show up, and John kills them also. In a cat-and-mouse game in the underground mine, it's John's son, young John, who leads the other teens to escape and bring help for the rest of the town when the mine starts burning. This thriller combines dark and edgy psychodrama infusing the coming-of-age theme with a blurring of the usual good vs. evil clichés. There are no bad guys—only good intentions gone terribly over the edge. The sketchy art and ocher-crimson coloring evoke a lifestyle badly frayed and heading for disaster. The underpinnings of teens vs. parents and idealism vs. ethics make the title a good bet for classroom use. Strong language; recommended for older teens up in public and academic libraries.—M.C.