Review Blog

May 09 2012

Red by Libby Gleeson

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2012 ISBN 9781741758535
(Ages: 10+) Recommended. After a cyclone has devastated the shores of Sydney, Red wakes to find herself being watched over by a boy called Peri. They shift uneasily together, finding food, clothing and shelter over the first few nights. But Red has no memory of who she is or where she is from, and they carefully piece together some recognition for her after they find her photo in the library at a deserted school.
The images of Sydney, almost demolished by a cyclone, with people wandering aimlessly, looking for family and friends, crowd in on the reader. TV footage of similarly destroyed communities Christchurch, Indonesia, Northern Queensland, and the devastation of the Victorian bushfires are readily brought to mind as these pages are read. As a consequence, readers will immediately start to think about how they would survive in the aftermath of such an event, and will follow Red's story with heightened awareness.
Red eventually opens the locket around her neck, finding a memory stick within. The impact of the images shocks her as she sees a man she believes to be her father telling her to trust no one and get the USB to a Royal Commission at present meeting in Melbourne. So begins a struggle to survive and get to Melbourne, all the while avoiding the police and other inquisitive travelers. Red finds everyone suspicious, even her friends, and it is up to her to get the information to the judge. A heart popping thriller of a story, Red will excite middle school readers.
Fran Knight

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