Review Blog

Apr 11 2008

Dusk by Kenneth Oppel

cover image

Faber and Faber 2007
(Ages 10+) Highly recommended. A thrilling page-turner with prehistoric bats as the main characters, Dusk is a story that will linger in the imagination. Dusk is a little chiropter who belongs to a colony that dwells in a tall tree. He was born with a difference – he can flap his wings and fly while his relatives can only glide. Outsiders are not welcome and it is not until the colony is under threat that he comes into his own.

This is a wonderful survival story told by an award-winning author. It is set in a time when dramatic changes are occurring on earth. The dinosaurs are dying out and meat eaters have emerged. The chiropter colony, once safe and happy on an island, is viciously attacked by tree climbing mammals. The colony is forced to use Dusk’s echovision, which helps him to see at night, and his flying ability to lead them to a new home.

The reader is swept along with the sheer adventure of the story and becomes immersed in Dusk's struggle to find a place for himself and the parallel tale of Carnassial who is the first in his tribe to eat meat. Both fight to survive in a harsh and evolving environment. Oppel subtly get his reader to think about extinction and the fight for survival.

Characters are finely drawn and very appealing. The family relations are vividly described, with Dusk's relationship with his sister Sylph and father, Icarion, the colony's leader, adding depth to the story. The moral dilemmas facing the groups about hunting and killing species are explored with the destruction of the eggs of the terrifying saurian.

This story is a winner. It will be welcomed by fans of Oppel's previous books about bats and new readers will be want to continue on with other books.
Pat Pledger.

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