Land of fences by Mark Smith
Text, 2019. ISBN: 9781925773583. Wilder trilogy, book 3.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended, Crime, Future, Dystopia, Asylum seekers, Virus. The third in the Wilder trilogy sees Finn and Kas leading a carefree lifestyle near the town where Finn grew up, in the lands beyond the control of the Wilders and the No-Landers. They hunt and fish, swim and surf, play with the dog and talk to Ray. They are beyond the reach of those who would hunt them down, but Kas' implant is always there. She is a siley, a slave, an asylum seeker, one of the band of people blamed for the virus which spread across Australia, causing absolute chaos when millions died, allowing small groups of thugs to take control, and the encroaching presence of those thugs means that Finn and Kas must move on.
Fixing an old radio has them hearing a transmission from the army, now controlling the area nearby and asking all who have survived to give themselves up. They know this will mean separation and the fear of what may happen to Kas impels their leaving their haven.
A sense of foreboding permeates the book as we follow the pair, now accompanied by two others who have escaped the farm where they were forced to work. But Kas' implant vibrates and they are caught and find that Ramage, their old enemy is now in charge of the area, and his word is law. But needing a doctor, Finn is taken to a woman who proves to be a siley as well, one of the qualified people who must be used despite their lowly status.
Through her, Finn begins to hope that there is resistance and he holds onto that idea. This again is a heart stopping read. The situation is dire, and Smith cleverly parallels life in Australia today with what it could be, with increased suspicion of smaller groups, of people who are different, of asylum seekers, allowed free rein. All the mistrust between the groups comes to the fore when the virus hits, with some using the mayhem for their own ends.
Stomach clenching episodes may cause some readers to have a break, as I did, finding it hard to cope with the threats imposed by Ramage and his crew, fearful of the fate of Finn and Kas. Smith's involving writing and ever present threat of intimidation, harm and worse will keep readers hooked to the last pages. A shockingly good dystopian story, it has warnings of what will happen when societies become zenophobic, insular and inward looking.