Review Blog

Aug 26 2014

New City by Deborah Abela

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Random House, 2014. ISBN 9781742758558.
(Ages: 9-12) Recommended. Beginning with a Diary entry by Griff giving a synopsis of the first book, Grimsdon,is an interesting way of setting the scene for New City which follows the fortunes of the Grimsdon survivors as they leave their flooded home for the safety of New City. From the extreme effects of global warming to a city governed by strict rules who can they trust?
Isabella, Griffin, Xavier, the twins Raff and Bea, Fly and the only adult Jeremiah are sad to be leaving Grimsdon where they have lived independently since the floods, but are looking forward to all that they have missed; electricity, movies, icecream, shops and chocolate. The children are keen to all stay together as a family when they arrive, but New City seems to be grey and forbidding with no one in the streets and the welcoming party is not very friendly.
Corporal Smith is in charge of the children and the Major General is in charge of the city which operates under martial law with its citizens are under camera observation from everywhere including spider bots, winged soldiers and all seeing eagles, in the guise of keeping them safe. When Isabella meets Vijay and hears about the children's camps she is determined to visit and find out the truth about the refugees.
The children are on a collision course with the all powerful and threatening Major General as they discover more about inequalities and harsh treatment meted out to some of the citizens and misinformation being spread by the media.
Reading along I was reminded of The Hunger Games with the oppression of the population, the inequalities and central control, as well as the children in detention debate with the children's camps being an extreme example.
'What kind of government locks up innocent children?' asks Isabella towards the end.
Weaving sections of Oliver Twist, read  nightly by Griffin, through the story adds to the poignancy of the children's plight.
Vijay's determination that Ghandi's peaceful protest will win the day is in contrast to the violence and military might of the Major General giving another issue to investigate. Together both Grimsdon and New City could be used to address the issues of sustainability and ethical understanding favoured in the Australian Curriculum.
Sue Keane

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