Review Blog

May 15 2014

Night Vision by Ella West

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743317662.
(Age: 11-14) Highly recommended. Reluctant readers. Mystery and suspense. Thriller. Ethics. Farm life. Xeroderma Pigmentosum. Viola was born with a deadly genetic condition, known as XP, which makes sunlight cause irreversible damage to the body. Most sufferers don't last until adulthood so Viola has to be very careful. Living on a remote farm, she has the run of the property, although it is at night that she roams into the forest. One night when wearing her night-vision goggles she spies on a man who is disposing of a body from the back of his car. He then buries something under one of the trees. Viola is faced with some difficult decisions. Should she report the murder? Should she use the buried money to save the farm? What will happen if the murderer finds out about her?
Told in the first person by Viola, the reader is taken on a suspenseful and thrilling journey as she sees the horrific burial of the man. When her photo is shown in the local paper the criminal realises that she may have seen him and taken the money. He leaves threats and Viola has to take action.
Viola's voice is an engaging one. The reader learns about her condition and the limits that it puts on her but she is never negative. Instead the reader is brought into a new world that is explored after dark. Farm life is authentically described and Viola, despite her condition, is a useful helpmate for her father with managing the sheep on the property. Her music too permeates the story giving it a depth that is unusual in a novel of this size (180 pages).
The ethics of whether Viola should keep the murder secret and use the money to help her parents is highlighted but it is left up to the reader to make their own decision about what is the right thing to do.
The length of the story and the tension that is maintained throughout makes for an exciting read that would be ideal for reluctant readers.
Pat Pledger

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