The snow laundry by Mette Jakobsen

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In a world where many young people have lived powerless existences in tunnels and hideouts as ‘human rats’, a new Administration and charismatic leader has emerged that implies that she has a solution to the woes that the young teenagers have faced. Taking Ally, her boyfriend Bon, and her friends out of the tunnels and into the re-purposed and commandeered buildings of former high-class hotels, they are set to work in virtual servitude, but always with the promise that better things will come. The discovery of lies that have been told and the fear that they are being used, leads them to take risks to uncover the truth and give them autonomy over their lives. But while they are ‘under guard’ and useful, any action in defiance of authority may also lead to their death. And what is the significance of the symbol of the moth? And where has Bon gone? And can Ally protect her friends by finding answers to questions or has she been conned by deceivers?

This is a book for lovers of Dystopian fiction, as it has a similar feisty female lead character as The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) and The List (Patricia Forde) and the same undercurrent of fear that pervades many Dystopian dramas. There is certainly a real violence that the characters face and the difficulties of prioritising protecting self or fighting against the unscrupulous administration, or coping with the attitudes of fellow citizens who see them only as ‘rats’ or filth, all create a real dramatic background to the storyline. The drama escalates as the teens start to unravel the threads of their existence and the pace increases to the last page, where we realise that there is no immediate conclusion and we must wait for the next book to be published in April 2023!  I almost wanted to scream as I was really enjoying this reading journey and had become invested in Ally’s rage against the forces at work against her and her friends. I  was whole-heartedly going to recommend this book for teen readers, but I almost want them to wait for the publication of the conclusion, or they too will be left hanging in frustration as I was.  Despite that, if you know a reader who is desperate to 'read another book like The Hunger Games', they will also be entranced by The Snow Laundry.  Let them devour it now and then re-read it before the April 2023 release.

Highly recommended.

Themes: Homelessness, Dystopian society, Human experimentation, Powerlessness, LGBTIQ+.

Carolyn Hull