Borderland by Graham Akhurst

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Borderland is an eco-horror focused young adult novel from debut author Graham Akhurst. Akhurst is a writer and academic who is currently Lecturer of Indigenous Australian Studies and Creative Writing at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). He is also the first Aboriginal Australian to receive a Fulbright Scholarship. Borderland is an excellent first offering in what is sure to be a successful career in young adult fiction.

The novel follows young First Nations teenager Jono Lane as he graduates from school and tries to decide what he wants to do with his life. Jono attended an elite private school in inner Brisbane where he was lucky enough to receive a scholarship – and where they never let him forget how lucky he was. The only thing Jono wants to continue from his time there is his friendship with Jenny, the only other Aboriginal student at the school.

Both Jono and Jenny become involved with a local Aboriginal Performing Arts Centre and from there they land themselves their first paid gigs with a documentary crew planning to film in rural Queensland. At first, Jono doesn’t care what the documentary is about or about its connection to a proposed mining project, he’s just excited to be getting paid to spend more time with Jenny. But soon, he begins to hear and see things in the shadows. Something or someone is trying to tell him things and it might be time to start listening.

Borderland is the perfect novel for a socially, politically, and environmentally switched on generation of teenagers. It deals with heavy themes such as identity, colonisation, racism and environmentalism in a way that is accessible and realistic for young people. It is a novel that is relevant for our time and for the concerns of this generation of young adults and adults alike. It is highly recommended.

Themes: Horror, Gothic, Romance, Australia, Queensland, Indigenous Australians, Identity, Environment.

Rose Tabeni