Bringing Reuben Home, by Glenda Millard

Cinnabar and Judah are stunned when Cinnabar’s grandfather Reuben makes his request. He wants the teenagers to help him escape the confines of the domed city. In spite of their shock, the friends are determined to help Reuben. But time is short. Reuben’s cessation date is coming. If they don’t act soon, it will be too late for Reuben.

New Carradon is a domed city where conditions are strictly controlled. Population growth is tightly contained and only those who are deemed genetically compatible are allowed to reproduce. When a person outlives his or her usefulness, he is ceased, with a cessation party to mark the occasion and to say goodbye to loved ones.

Cinnabar has never been oustide the city walls, but Reuben remembers the old city and is determined to take his wife’s ashes there before he dies.

Judah and Cinnabar need to figure out a way to smuggle Reuben out of the city. In doing so, they uncover more about their own pasts than they ever suspected could be true. Bringing Reuben home will be only the beginning of a whole new life.

The setting of this story is familiar – the concept of a domed city is the basis of many science fiction stories. What chills and intrigues is this city’s approach to population control. The prospect of a planned cessation – a bizarre expiry date – has the reader squirming. Millard manages to create a rich contrast between the cold, sterile emotions of the protected city and the warm emotions of the outside. She does this without preaching or over-analysing. Instead, the story is fast paced, with plenty of action and intrigue.

Millard’s novel for younger readers, The Naming Of Tishkin Silk has gathered wide acclaim. Bringing Reuben Home, for an older audience, will also be well-received.

Bringing Reuben Home, by Glenda Millard
ABC Books, 2004