Review Blog

Oct 19 2020

Future Girl by Asphyxia

cover image

Allen & Unwin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760294373.
(Age: Middle to senior secondary) Recommended. Irene McBride is Organicore's chief scientist, overseeing the nutritional value and health supplements in Recon, artificial food replacements regularly delivered to 65% of the Australian population. Her 16 year old daughter Piper is deaf but brought up using hearing aids and lip reading so she can fit in with a mainstream school. Everyone has a wristlet with visi screen linked to the government controlled "Quest tool" (Cesspool) which also controls access to bank accounts, public transport and ID. Rich kids aspire to having them implanted. While Piper can operate in a hearing world, it is a constant struggle; she has a best friend, Taylor, but becomes isolated in groups or noisy environments. Their world is turned upside down when petrol prices soar; transport becomes unaffordable, jobs are lost, shortages lead to rationing and the deliveries of Recon dwindle to the point that everyone is hungry. Piper's mum loses her job and they move into their basic guest flat and rent out the house. When Taylor takes up with controlling older boyfriend, Beau, Piper's only consolation is to draw and write in her journal, a relaxing, end of day time when she takes her frustrations and dumps them on the page. She decides to refurbish an old bike to get around on and meets a hot guy, Marley, working at the bike shop. He is CODA, (child of deaf adult) and teaches Piper to sign in Auslan. She sees a flyer advertising a workshop on growing your own food but when she attends she can't follow what is said. Marley introduces her to his mother who grows her own food and Piper embarks on a journey to learn about not only growing food, but about the Deaf community and how individual activism from the ground up can change the world.
Beautifully produced as Piper's journal with colour, pattern and illustrations on every page, the collages are eloquent at expressing feelings, augmenting the story and adding instructional material to the text.  Piper bravely faces the challenges in her life, including killing the chickens she has raised for food, and in doing so she discovers inner toughness and a direction for herself in a world which has lost direction.
Asphyxia has online blogs and videos for readers who want to know more about the Deaf community and sustainable living and there is a list of Art Journal ideas at the back of the book. Recommended for middle to senior students and a useful resource in combining text with illustration.
Themes: Dystopia, Deafness, Sustainable living.
Sue Speck

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