Streams of Babel, by Carol Plum-Ucci

Carol Plum-Ucci’s Streams of Babel kicks off with a bang and never stops moving. When two women die of brain aneurysms within hours of one another in the New Jersey suburb of Trinity Falls, it raises a few local eyebrows, and when their children fall ill with strange, flu-like symptoms, even the government takes notice. Thanks to information gathered by a teenage computer genius living in Pakistan, anti-terrorism agents have been hearing rumors of a water-based attack for months. No one knows why terrorists would want to attack a community like Trinity Falls, but it becomes increasingly clear that something is very wrong with their water supply....

Steams of Babel is absorbing, fast-paced, and creepy enough to send shivers up the spines of both teen and adult readers*. While the book’s ceaseless action gets a little tiring over 400-plus pages, and Plum-Ucci’s young protagonists are too articulate to be plausible (the mysterious illness appears to have struck down some of the most intelligent, self-possessed children on the planet), her story is intriguing enough to make a little suspension of disbelief worthwhile.

The Internet informs me that several of Plum-Ucci’s other novels feature deliberately vague endings. Unanswered questions may not be your favorite literary closing device (they’re certainly not mine), but please don’t let that stop you from reading this book: Streams of Babel is a complete story, and there are no major plot threads left hanging. A sequel would be great—not because Ms. Plum-Ucci leaves her story half-told, but because I would like to know what happens next in these intelligent and appealing characters’ lives.

*I’m going to be drinking filtered water for months. Maybe boiling it, too.
Posted by: Julianka


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