Review Blog

Nov 06 2009

Vulture's Gate by Kirsty Murray

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Allen and Unwin, 2009. ISBN 9781741757107.
(Ages 12+) With her grandfather dead, Bo lives alone in an abandoned opal dugout with her roboraptors, eking out an existence, keeping clear of outsiders, protected by a perimeter of landmines. She strives to remember all the things he told her, because they mean her very life. But when a landmine explodes, she knows someone has broken the perimeter and so takes her roboraptors out to investigate. She finds a young boy, who, like her, has to keep his wits about him to survive. He has been held by a brutal group of men and trained to do tricks on motorbikes as they tour the outland settlements. Together they form an uneasy bond, Callum telling her about the city where he once lived, and Bo telling him how they will survive.
Their journey takes them on a strange path, avoiding other people, but one encounter has them captured by an older man, who, discovering Bo is a girl, strives to keep her with him. Their escape lands them in further trouble, as Callum, convinced that he will find his fathers when they get to the city, takes them into this broken place. There the Festers take them as their own, but they too are captured and Bo, once her sex is discovered, is taken into a more secret space where the few women are kept.
A scary look at a future where society has splintered into disparate groups and most women have been wiped out by disease, Murray displays a society which is tangible and credible. The remnants of other times are still there, giving the reader a solid base of reality on which to judge the new society, while the behaviour of those they meet are real enough to be plausible and very frightening. With hints of Mad Max, and Z for Zachariah, the story is original and involving, with two very strongly delineated main characters, and I can see it working well as a class novel with middle school students.
Fran Knight

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