Atlantic (Tic) Brewer never knew her father, a hydrologist who died at sea before she was born. Raised by her mother and an elderly neighbor, Tic’s small home on the Edge is under threat from rising sea levels. At sixteen-years-old Tic is smart and studies hard as she prepares to attend one of many Academies established worldwide when the International Change Agreement warned of imminent environmental collapse. There she meets friends Phish and Lee, who like her pledge to save all human civilization in a race against time.
Tic follows in her father’s footsteps, hunting for the cause of unprecedented icecap melt, but when she accidentally stumbles upon a note, suspicions are raised surrounding his untimely death. To solve both mysteries, Tic is helped by her new friends, but when they dig deeper Tic is confronted by enemies she never knew she had. In an environment where cities have been swallowed by rising sea levels and millions have died from natural disasters, starvation, and disease, Tic finds herself and those she loves in an urgent fight for their own personal survival.
Far from your typical boarding-school adventure, Code Blue is a young adult eco-thriller that challenges readers with questions relevant to our time.
CODE BLUE — Similar books and comparisons
1) Like Saci Lloyd’s Carbon Diaries, Code Blue presents us with an imminently recognizable future and a main character who struggles to balance the challenges of growing up, balancing friendship and new love with the urgent impacts of climate change.
2) The Code Blue series is reminiscent of Harry Potter. Although one is magical and the other all too real both series feature brave and smart young people who are tasked with solving world crisis for which they are not in the least responsible.
3) Code Blue explores a recognizable future world in which climate change has impacted every aspect of daily life. Similar to Kim Stanley Robinsons New York 2140, Code Blue approaches critical themes with a sense of adventure and optimism.
4) Code Blue gives us a new version of the young female heroine. While Hunger Game’s Katniss Everdeen’s undeniable bravery succeeds in saving the world from a violent political system, Tic Brewer uses her intelligence and compassion to try to save the world from climate change.
5) What Elizabeth Rush’s Dispatches From the New American Shore does in brilliant journalistic non-fiction to describe the impact of sea level rise, Code Blue imagines for young adults in a fictional but not too distant future.
I am not usually a reader of Young Adult fiction but I was glad to have read Code Blue, an ‘eco-mystery’ by Marissa Slaven. One test I apply to a YA novel is whether an OA can enjoy it (btw that’s ‘older adult’ not ‘old adult’!). A further test is whether the author avoids the trap of treating the reader as a child that needs to be told, rather than a smart adult. Code Blue passes both of my tests with flying colors.
I like the way the author commences each chapter with a test question from the entry examination to the North East Science Academy. It’s a simple and less preachy device for conveying context to the story as well as some climate change knowledge. On the occasions where information on climate change is covered the author does so accurately and with ease, reflecting her own in-depth research on the topic. She has done us a great service in spreading useful climate change information submerged within an enthralling and entertaining story.
As a near-future novel, Code Blue introduces us to some new concepts – The Edge, the 1 to 5 warning system, some invented colloquialism ‘Facts’, The Heretic Wars and more. And who couldn’t but like the main protagonist Tic and her friend Phish (both female, in case you were wondering) as well as the male foils in Lee and Tate.
I have no doubt that YA readers will enjoy this book…and so will OA’s. Five Stars.
—Mike Muntisov, author of Court of the Grandchildren.
Dystopian fiction comes and goes, and too many assume the trappings of formula productions; but the test of any superior story line lies in its ability to draw readers with powerful characterization and associations that lend to a reader’s emotional connections with events as they unfold. Code Blue holds a special ability to juxtapose both the bigger ecological picture with the microcosm of a young adult’s personal challenges as she moves through this world.
—Diane Donovan from the Midwest Book Review
Marissa Slaven was born and raised in Montreal by parents who taught her that it was her responsibility to do her part to make the world a better place. She has been helping people in her role as a palliative care physician for twenty-five years and she continues to get great satisfaction from this work. She is the mother of three grown children and two dogs. She has always enjoys reading books of multiple genres and frequently has two or three books on the go at the same time. She especially loves stories with strong female characters and was searching for a YA novel where the heroine saves the world using her intelligence and compassion. She was inspired by her daughter to write Code Blue, an eco-fiction thriller, where a teenage girl and her friends battle climate change. Marissa took courses at Humber college where she honed her writing skills. In the process of writing the novel, Marissa taught herself about the climate crisis. She became a passionate climate activist and continues to both write and try to do her part to make the world a more sustainable place for all living things. Marissa loves interacting with her readers and speaking with young people about the environment. She recently completed Code Red, the sequel to Code Blue, and is working on a non-fiction account of her great-uncle’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War.
Visit the Stormbird Press Website
To learn more about Marissa Slaven
To learn more about Code Blue
Crap! I was still holding on to a lot of hope that Phish would track down Uncle Al. It starts me worrying about him all over again. I think about the board of faces and suddenly I am tearing up. I don’t want to give up hope. This is where my whole life was and now it lies around me in ruins, my little bedroom, my things, like a slap in the face, they are so meaningless compared to Mom, Uncle Al, and Ruthie. I can’t give up yet. Maybe…Why not? I am so close I should be able to row over to his place in no time. It’s not likely he’s there, but you never know. He hasn’t turned up anywhere else, so it’s worth looking. I could also check up in his loft for my dad’s box. If it is there this might be my last chance to get it. I am getting hungry and briefly consider going back for the beets, but then again they’re pickled beets. I think I would rather starve.
I’ll open the box later. I put the key to the lockbox on the chain of the necklace with the pendant, and fasten it around my neck. Lockbox in hand I climb out the window and into the canoe. The treetops of the “dark woods” separating our properties are above water, and I decide it will be easier and quicker to go around them instead of trying to navigate through. As I round the edge of the woods on the far side I feel vindicated. Just like I told Phish, Uncle Al’s barn is still there. The water comes up the hill to within a few feet of the ramp, but the barn itself sits high and dry on six-foot concrete pylons. I am so excited to see it I do a fist pump and the canoe rocks.
With new energy I pull deep and long with my paddle, left, left, right, right, getting closer with each pull. Is there something off about the barn? It takes me another two strokes to figure it out: there is smoke snaking out of the ventilation ducts. I don’t understand, but I am propelled by anxiety, and I don’t even feel the last few strokes that bring me forcefully up against the hill. I pull the canoe out of the water and sprint.
The barn door is barred from the outside, but my collarbone has healed and I have no trouble now using both hands to lift the beam off its U-hook and pull the door open. I take a step back and then a cautious, curious step forward. Even though I am still outside on the ramp I can feel the heat radiating from the interior, and some coils of smoke sail out the top of the open door. How is there a fire inside? Is it related to the four? That was over three days ago. How—
My thoughts are interrupted by the vision of a large body emerging from the smoky barn door. “Ruthie!” I cry. She crashes into me and I sit down. “Good dog,” I say again and again, running my hands through her fur, petting and scratching her. She enjoys it for a moment and then turns and heads back up the ramp. “No Ruthie,” I say grabbing her collar to pull her away. “No. Not safe.”
But she is so much dog that she is the one pulling me as I hang onto her collar. I let go and she heads straight through the door. I follow her in. It’s wicked hot and the unmistakable voice of a fire is crackling up in the loft above us. Luckily most of the smoke is heading up and out of the ventilation ducts that are spaced every three feet along the walls where they meet the roof. Where is this dumb beast going and how am I going to get her to leave with me? I am sure I can’t last very long in here.
I grab her again and only manage to slow down her progress. She continues moving forward until she comes to a full stop at one of the posts that runs the length of the barn to hold up the loft. What? Why? And then I see why.
“No!” I let go of Ruthie’s collar and crouch down close. “Uncle Al,” I gasp. He’s lying on his side, eyes closed, not moving. I shake him and yell, “Wake up! Wake up!”
He moans and opens one eye a crack. When he sees my face up close to his he opens his eye wider. “Tic,” he says and starts to cough. He turns his head and I see his other eye is swollen shut. He tries to move, to sit up I think, but is pulled back down to the lying position. His arms are pulled behind his back. Why?
I crawl around behind him. His hands are tied to the post. I try to pull at the knots, but they won’t give. I try harder, but it seems hopeless. The ropes are tied too tight. I am not going to be able to untie him. I can’t leave him here, though. I can’t! I won’t!
I reach into my bag and feel for the pocketknife. My fingers find it and pull it out. I squeeze and the blade flips open. It’s as sharp as the day Uncle Al gave it to me. In a minute I have sawed through the rope and he is free.
“C’mon,” I say. “Let’s get out of here.”
I help him to stand up. He grimaces and grabs onto the post as his right leg almost gives. There is a big, dark blotch on his thigh that doesn’t look good, but we both know we have to get out of here, now. He leans a hand on my shoulder and, using me as a crutch, we follow Ruthie out of the barn.
Outside, we sit down beside the canoe, close to the water’s edge, gulping in the fresh air.
“Are you okay?” I ask.
“I am now,” he says, rubbing his wrists where the rope dug into his skin. “What are you doing here, Tic? Where’s your mother?”
“I’ll explain later. What happened in there?”
“I was waiting things out in the barn because I didn’t want to leave the cows. I had more than enough supplies for them and me, for a few more days, anyway. I just didn’t want to leave them, you know?”
I can absolutely believe that. Uncle Al loves his cows and would do just about anything for them. “But the fire? The rope? I don’t understand,” I say.
He starts to answer and then starts coughing and can’t stop. He wraps his right arm around his left ribs to try and hold his chest still as tears stream out of his good eye. When he finally stops he says, “It’s because of your father, Tic.”