I really enjoyed M. Night Shyamalan's film, "The Village", and later read that there was a controversy over where the idea for the film had originated. It had been suggested that the premise of the film had been taken from this book. My curiosity having been peaked, I decided to check for myself. I was surprised that the book was one that had been written for the young adult market. Still, I did not let that deter me from buying the book, though it had been decades since I had been a young adult. I was pleased, however, to note that the book had been designated an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, so all was not lost.
The book is an easy and pleasant read with a very compelling storyline. It tells the story of thirteen year old Jessie Keyser, who all her life has believed that she lives in the nineteenth century frontier village of Clifton, Indiana. When diphtheria starts claiming the lives of the village children, her mother tells her that it is not really 1840, as Jessie has been led to believe, but 1996. It appears that the village in which Jessie has grown up is actually a historical preserve, which its inhabitants are forbidden to leave. Jessie, however, is entrusted with a very important mission. She is to leave the preserve and seek help for their village in the outside world, avoiding capture by those who would seek to silence her in order to maintain the status quo and the secret that they are harboring in Clifton.
This is a very imaginative debut novel with a strong storyline that will appeal to those who are fond of historical fiction or time travel tales. It is most definitely a plot driven, rather than character driven, story. While it is simply written so as to appeal to the young adult market and teens, the story is so compelling that adults will also enjoy it, as long as they keep in mind the targeted audience. As for its similarity to the film, "The Village", there can be little doubt as to why someone may suggest comparison between the two.