Title: Colony East
Author: Scott Cramer
Publisher: Train Renoir Publishing
Release Date: October 2014
Length: 336 pages
Series?: Toucan Trilogy #2
When Abby’s little sister, Toucan, contracts a new, deadly illness spreading among the survivors, they go on a dangerous journey to Colony East, an enclave of scientists caring for a small group of children.
Abby fears that time is running short for Touk, but she soon learns that time is running out for everyone outside Colony East.
The second book in the trilogy brings such changes! News gypsies and fuel kings have taken over the survivors’ worlds. The Port radio stationed, rumored to be operated by a kid, is what keeps many going. It is when a particular band of news gypsies comes to Castine Island that the Leighs and friends learn about Colony East, a big operative in New York. In fact, one of the gypsies was from Colony East.
Jordan sets sail on his own adventure, leaving Abby and Toucan behind on Castine Island with the rest of the survivors. When Toucan contracts what Abby believes is a new deadly virus called “The Pig,” she knows she must act fast. Her mission is to get Touk to Colony East for testing – and for the cure.
Abby takes Touk as far as she can, breaking barriers than many thought were impenetrable, to save her baby sister. It is not until after she is inside Colony East that she questions how beneficial the adults there are, and what it is exactly they are studying.
You can read my review of Night of the Purple Moon, the first book in the trilogy, here. This book picks up a few days after Night of the Purple Moon ends.
- Abby Leigh – a 13 year old red-head 7th grader on the island, Jordan and Touk’s older sister; becomes the first medical responder
- Jordan Leigh – Abby’s younger 6th grade brother; has a lot of friends on the island; becomes the lead sailor
- Toucan Leigh – Abby and Jordan’s toddler sister
- Toby – the school bully; rude and crude; becomes the lead negotiator
- Mel – Abby’s friend back home in Cambridge
- Timmy – a youngster of six or seven found by Abby on the mainland
- Mandy – a hardcore, aggressive pre-teen part of a motorcycle gang on the mainland
Staring upward, Abby felt a deep fatigue set in and began seeing images on the ceiling; she was sailing home and had entered the calm waters of Castine Harbor. She fixed her eyes on the tip of the mile-long jetty that stretched into the mouth of the harbor. It was her favorite place to be alone on the island. She imagined that the noxious smoke from the distant fire was the rich, raw scent of seaweed at low tide. Abby’s eyelids drooped as a sense of peace settled over her like mist on a pond.
The Highs and Lows
- Time Advance. In the beginning of the book, it picks up a few days where the first book (Night of the Purple Moon) left off. Abby, Jordan, Mel, Mandy and Timmy are recovering from their stint in Massachusetts and traveling back to Castine Island. Then the book fast forwards a year and has alternating chapters. Readers meet Lieutenant Dawson at Colony East (in New York), and find out enough about the place to have the heeby jeebies. Although Colony East is trying to rebuild some semblance of a civilization and order, they must carefully choose the children who will grow up to be the next generation.
- Lieutenant Dawson. He is a tortured man in some ways, carrying with him the gnawing uncertainty of whether his own baby and wife are alive. Many times he has asked to be part of crews in the area of his home, and each time he is stalwartly denied. Despite this, he is kind and compassionate to his cadets and does his very best to look out for them and their well-being.
- The Pig. The Pig is a new virus that you don’t realize you have until it’s too late, and there isn’t a cure. As Abby travels to Colony East, she learns that many kids on the mainland kill those they suspect have The Pig because they literally can’t stop eating…and try to kill for any and all food.
- “The illness was horrific: a month of high fever, loss of appetite, hallucinations in the latter stage, and a painful rash that devoured the skin in the final days leading up to death. The antibiotic was the only cure.”
- Abby. She is growing into a strong young lady. Her kindness and compassion can be taken advantage of in a time like this, and get her into serious situations. She is not one to back down because something seems impossible. She is adventurous, bold and brave. But she still hangs on to this childhood innocence that makes her a little naive about the new world they are living in.
- – Inconsistency. At a few points in the latter part of the book, Abby and Jordan both make references to the survivors on Castine Island, stating that hundreds of kids have flocked there from the mainland for survival, but I don’t recall any of that mentioned in the beginning of the book when they are actually still on the island.
- Jordan’s Change of Heart. After many visits by news gypsies, Jordan decides he needs to set sail from Castine Island, so he does. I did feel like he was abandoning Abby and Touk. The book also follows his journey, and he finally ends up at The Port and discovers the identity of the mysteriously anonymous DJ. He leaves a dedication through a song for Abby, and I hope this means he will continue to make his way back home.
- Resourcefulness. In the first book we discovered how the Leighs and Patels helped set the island up for success, and how the 28 survivors of Castine Island operated together to make a new life. In the second installment, we see how the kids on the mainland have established their own little colonies for survival. They have set up trading routes, much like the triangular trade in the 16th century between Europe, the Caribbean, and the colonies. Power is held by those who are fuel kings. They own everything from the fuel to weapons to food to medical supplies. Some also have rule over medical clinics that have been set up. In all, these pockets of kids everywhere Abby and Jordan come in contact with have figured out how to make do and live without the help from any adults.
- – Cliffhanger. I hate cliffhangers. Although I understand them, I also hate them. I was left in the dark, not knowing if the kids I had become emotionally attached to are going to make it through.
- Emotional Attachment. I felt an emotional attachment to the Leighs in the first book, and I feel even more invested in them in this one. The way Cramer has crafted the situation, and the characters personalities and reactions to it all leaves me feeling like there is a glimmering element of good in us all. If ever put to the test, it could come out in all of us. I suppose the concept of a story of survival, with such adventure and danger, puts you right in the thick of things. I did find myself feeling like a character in the story.
Despite forming an emotional connection, I don’t feel this book was as enjoyable for me as the first one was. I know this is a trilogy and Toucan is the vital focus. After all, it is called the Toucan Trilogy, but I just didn’t feel the same as I did about the first one. Perhaps it was my impending feeling of doom and death. Please don’t kill the Leighs. Please, no!
Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip?
If you’re keeping up with the Kardashians – ahem, the Leighs – buy the book. If you want the entire trilogy, buy it! If you simply want to enjoy the storyline and the characters, borrow it.
Scott Cramer has written feature articles for national magazines, optioned a screenplay, and worked in high-tech communications. The Toucan Trilogy –Night of the Purple Moon, Colony East, and Generation M– are his first novels. Scott and his wife have two daughters and reside outside Lowell, Massachusetts.