Finnikin of the Rock  - Melina Marchetta I'll begin by saying that I enjoyed reading Finnikin of the Rock.

On the island of Skuldenore, the tiny kingdom of Lumatere has been brutally conquered by the usurping cousin of the king, and a subsequent curse has cut it off from the rest of the world, splitting its citizens between those trapped within its borders and the exiles, who eke out meager existences in the surrounding nations. For nine years, Finnikin of the Rock, the son of the Captain of the King's Guard, and his mentor Sir Topher have been wandering among the exile camps, giving aid where they could and trying to convince some nation to make a place for their people. One day they're summoned to the Lagrami cloister in Sendecane where they're tasked to escort the mysterious novice Evanjalin, who claims to be able to lead them to Balthazar, the King's son. What follows is their efforts to return to Lumatere, break the curse and restore their land.

Upon a certain amount of reflection, this book brings to mind Colson Whitehead's Zone One (which I recently read) in that it tells the stories of people who suffer horrors indescribable - murder, rape, terror, etc. - and are forced to make decisions no one should have to - who to sacrifice so all don't die, etc. Finnikin of the Rock, however, celebrates our capacity to retain our ability to feel love and compassion, unlike Mark Spitz and his fellow survivors in Zone One, who have reached a point where they feel they can't affort to care anymore.

While I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to any adult reader, it definitely strains the definition of "young adult." There are themes of rape, murder, vengeance and terrorism that most parents might not want their twelve-year-old reading about. At least not without mom or dad there to discuss things.