Review Blog

May 02 2012

The Bridge by Jane Higgins

cover image

Text Publishing, 2012. ISBN 089 1 921758 33 1.
(Ages: 13+) Recommended. Dystopian. Nik and his fellow year 12 students are alert. ISIS representatives have entered the school hall, ready to take away the best of the best for acceptance and training for their elite guard. One by one, Nik's friends stand, their name called, but at the end of the ceremony, Nik is still there, seated. He and his friends are appalled, Nik is the top student and no one can give him a credible reason for his omission. Not being selected means he will be sent to the farms, or even worse, made to join the army, fighting those who live on the other side of the river, across the bridge, the Remnants, the Southsiders And he knows that those who join the army do not live long.
A dystopian story of the divided city where the chasm between those who have money and education and those on the southern reaches of the city, has meant that both sides have deteriorated into autocratic regimes, corrupt and self serving, spreading stories of the other side to keep control, scaring people into submission. Nik and Fy try to escape when their school is bombed, but in taking Fy's younger brother, Sol, with them, must abandon everything and search for him when he is kidnapped. The pair infiltrates the Southerners, Nik being able to speak the language and so get close to one of the commanders. Working with her, he sees a different side to the stories he has been brought up with and a moral dilemma develops, leading to his helping those he is with, the enemy.
There are comments about the divide between rich and poor, the haves and have nots, the lust for power, the greed and self serving nature of those in power. Many parallels to today's western society can be drawn, making this a more interesting read than some dystopian novels which are simply war novels set in a different space. The story is compelling and the character of Nik, particularly, one that held me intrigued, especially when the question of who his parents were, combined with the question of just why he was rejected by the ISIS in the fist place, is foreshadowed enticingly throughout the novel, colouring much of what happens. And the many twists will keep the reader guessing about what will happen to the end.
Fran Knight

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