Review Blog

Sep 21 2018

Wraith by Alexandra and Shane Smithers

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Magabala Books, 2018. ISBN 9781925360950
(Age: 13+) Recommended. Themes: Science Fiction, Flight, Climate Change, Aboriginal people. James can fly; he practices his technique out in the bush, as his best friend Darren shouts words of encouragement. He's unsure of his special powers and unfortunately tends to crash land. Darren hatches a cunning plan when James' parents travel to New Zealand for a work conference. Through some tricky manoeuvres Darren helps his Bra'a return to his empty family home and continue to master his flying skills.
Wearing Darren's invention, the Variable Pressure Release unit, James is propelled up into the atmosphere. He crashes into Nebulosity, a cloud city peopled by sky dwellers. After waking from a coma, he is amazed by this advanced city, a different civilisation with its unique transport and technological advances. James is drawn into a desperate search to find the SAFFIRE technology designed to save the city from the effects of climate change. With the help of Aureole, a young girl determined to save Nebulosity, James needs his to rise to the challenges and help in this journey.
Woven throughout is the three villains' story, their mission is to find and destroy the SAFFIRE technology. They travel in an array of fast vehicles, employ a range of tools and utilise their specialised skills to thwart the teens' plans. Their attitudes, conversations and actions heighten the drama and build the fast-paced action.
The main Aboriginal characters James and his mate Darren are genuinely relatable, realistic, humorous, showing determination as they discover, grow and develop their abilities. Key environmental messages of personal responsibility and working together to save the planet underpin "Wraith: James Locke and the Azuriens".
Alexandra and Shane Smithers have written a complex and compelling narrative, set against the background of both rural and urban Australia. Their creativity, attention to detail, scientific understandings, complex worlds and populations of sky and earth dwellers make this a richly rewarding read for teens and young adults.
Rhyllis Bignell

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