Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

they learn the frightening truth: we are not alone... Stricken by C.K. Kelly Martin

Amnestic-Delirium Syndrome (ADS) starts off with memory loss, but the virus soon turns its victims aggravated, blank, or violent. Naomi and her friends must survive on their own, without lucid adults, cut off from the rest of the world, until a cure is found.


Naomi doesn't expect anything unusual from her annual family trip to visit her grandparents in Ireland. What she expects is to celebrate her thirteenth birthday, hang out with her friends Ciara and Shehan, and deal with her gran's Alzheimer's. What she finds is a country hit by an unexpected virus that rapidly infects the majority of the Irish population over the age of twenty-one.

Amnestic-Delirium Syndrome (ADS) starts off with memory loss, but the virus soon turns its victims aggravated, blank, or violent. Naomi and her friends must survive on their own, without lucid adults, cut off from the rest of the world, until a cure is found.

But there are whispers that ADS is not terrestrial, and soon Naomi and her friends learn the frightening truth: we are not alone.

WHAT IF ... 

The fourth season of History network survivalist contest TV show Alone started a few weeks ago. I watched seasons two and three before it and with this newest season I’m once again confronted with how little I know about surviving alone in the elements. Being allergic to grass and various trees and plants to the extent that I can’t mow the lawn or keep a bouquet of fresh flowers, let alone go camping, I’ve had very little exposure to raw nature. That being the case, I’m in awe of the Alone contestants who are able to survive solo without electricity or outside communication, building their own shelter, catching animals for food and even foraging for plants to use as medicine. The majority of people likely wouldn’t fare as well in a pandemic or other type of extended emergency that kicked out our country’s infrastructure. The general population simply hasn’t been trained for it. 

In terms of emergency preparedness most communities stress having an emergency kit containing 72 hours of supplies and forming a family escape plan. Schools do a lot of heavy lifting in terms of emergency drills that help children know what to do and where to go during an emergency. However, usually these preparations are for short term emergencies in limited areas. 

In recent years more and more educators have become interesting in finding ways to integrate eco-literacy into their curriculum. The Eco-Schools programme extends from kindergartens to universities and empowers “students to be the change our sustainable world needs by engaging them in fun, action-orientated and socially responsible learning.” Eco-schools is implemented in 67 countries, 51,000 schools, and involves over 19,000,000 students. David Orr, environmental educator and creator of the term ‘ecological literacy’s suggests all students should graduate with an “understanding of local flora and fauna, environmental ethics, carrying capacity, energetics, basic principles of ecology and sustainable agriculture.” 

This type of knowledge would certainly help young people like Stricken main character Naomi survive long-term in a place without functioning infrastructure. Nowadays there are also calls for first aid to be taught in schools. In a recent study of UK adults only three in 10 said they would have the knowledge and confidence to help someone who had collapsed and wasn’t breathing so it makes sense for kids to be well-versed in first aid also. 

In Stricken thirteen-year-old Naomi remembers learning in science class that ninety percent of people exposed to measles would catch it without the vaccines we have now. She also recalls the same teacher mentioning you can add drops of bleach to make water drinkable if you can’t boil it. Through playing hockey on a team, she also has some basic knowledge of what to do with a suspected concussion. Together Naomi and her friends are smart enough to know to stick together, stay out of sight of threats, forage their immediate neighbourhood for much-needed supplies and use other problem solving-skills to cope with their surroundings. I believe most kids of their age would be able to accomplish the same as a group. Even before the virus strikes Naomi and her friends belong to a generation who have been forced to consider the imminent effect of climate change on their lives and to act to try to protect the environment. With the March for Our Lives we saw high school students take the lead in demanding gun control. The kind of tenacity, critical thinking and ethics this displays is an example to us all. While most of us don’t currently have the skills necessary to survive without electricity, communication networks and other developed-world infrastructure, I certainly believe young people would do know worse than the rest of us, and quite possibly, they might do better. 

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About the author:
Long before I was an author I was a fan of books about Winnie the Pooh, Babar, Madeline, Anne Shirley and anything by Judy Blume. Throughout high school my favourite class was English. No surprise, then, that most of my time spent at York University in Toronto was as an English major—not the traditional way to graduate with a B.A. (Hons) in film studies but a fine way to get a general arts education.

After getting my film studies degree I headed for Dublin, Ireland and spent the majority of the nineties there in forgettable jobs meeting unforgettable people and enjoying the buzz. I always believed I'd get around to writing in earnest eventually, and I began writing my first novel in a flat in Dublin and finished it in a Toronto suburb. By then I'd discovered that fiction about young people felt the freshest and most exciting to me. You have most of your life to be an adult but you only grow up once.

Currently residing near Toronto with my Dub husband, I'm an aunt to twenty-one nieces and nephews, and a great-aunt to two great-nephews. I became an Irish citizen in 2001 and continue to visit Dublin as often as I can while working on novels about young people.

My first young adult book, I Know It's Over, came out with Random House in September 2008, and was followed by One Lonely Degree, The Lighter Side of Life and Death, My Beating Teenage Heart and sci-fi thriller Yesterday. I released Yesterday's sequel, Tomorrow, in 2013 and put out my first adult novel, Come See About Me, as an ebook in June 2012. My most recent contemporary YA books, The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing and Delicate, were published by Cormorant Books' Dancing Cat Books imprint in 2014 and 2015.

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