Glimpse by Jane Higgins
Glimpse is inspired by Higgins’ experience of the Christchurch earthquake in 2010: the collapsed buildings, the darkness, the rats, people traumatised, but also people helping each other. In her novel, there are people who can ‘see’ quakes before they happen, only minutes before they occur, but enough time to warn people to take to safety.
Two young friends, Jonah and Bas, are living in D-Zone, a zone that has been wrecked by earthquakes and is scheduled for demolition. It’s a place where there are many ‘illegals’ living, people without official papers, always in fear of Border Control.
Into this world comes PANN, People for a New Nation, ready to exploit people’s grief and take their money with false promises. And then there is Glimpse Corp, a reality TV show sensationalising the stories of ‘glimpsers’. Both companies move in, motivated by the opportunity to make a profit from the situation.
Bas falls for the con trick of PANN, and Jonah finds himself stepping into danger to try to save his friend. Luckily Jonah has a girlfriend, Evie, who keeps him grounded, and able to calmly analyse the best solution. And another young friend Shikha, has insight into the media world. Nevertheless, the danger ramps up, and it is a race against time for Jonah to try to save his friend, and his community.
In the end, survival and strength comes from the bonds of friends, and people uniting together against adversity. As Higgins says, ‘Glimpse is about the ways that, in the worst of times, people shine’. Teacher's notes are available.
Themes Dystopia, Earthquakes, Disaster, Premonitions, Grief, Exploitation, Reality TV, Friendship.
Havoc by Jane Higgins
Text, 2015. ISBN: 9781922147295
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. This dystopian novel is the sequel to
Bridge (winner of the Text Prize for Young Adult and
Children's Writing in 2010) and has the reader urgently turning the
page to see what happens next.
Nick Stais and Pathmaker Lanya, are skilfully drawn main characters
who share their inner world with the reader as they grapple with
betrayal and conflict. They are caught in a war between two cities,
Cityside (rich and powerful) and Southside (portrayed as
disadvantaged). A more sinister plan involving biological warfare is
discovered. Nick and Lanya must find Nick's father (across the river
in Cityside) in order to establish collaborations that will reveal
the conspiracy of the governments involved. The writing that
explains the actions and thoughts of the characters is intelligent.
The reader is often held in suspense as the intrigue and power games
threaten to overcome the main characters.
This novel provides opportunities to examine and discuss
contemporary issues such as border security, asylum seekers,
conflict, loyalty and trust in government.
notes are available and these are aligned with the Australian
The Bridge by Jane Higgins
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.
The Bridge by Jane Higgins
The Text Publishing Company, 2011. ISBN 9781921758331.
(Ages 13+) Nik has always wanted to join the ISIS, but the problem
is that it's not that simple. You can't just join; they have to pick
you. The ISIS are the brains behind the army on the Cityside,
fighting the war against the Hostiles on the Southside on the other
side of the river. When the day finally comes, the day Nik has
waited for his whole life, they don't pick him. Nik is desperate for
answers, the ISIS pick the smartest people in the school usually and
Nik is one of the smartest people in his year. Then the school gets
bombed and so much is lost in the attack. Nik losses his best friend
Lou. Lou's sister Fyffe and brother Sol are devastated by the loss
of their brother and Fyffe, Sol, Jono, Dash and Nik also lose their
friend Bella. The city has become unsafe, the Hostiles have taken
the bridges and now control who goes in and out of the city. As a
group they decide to leave the city to take Fyffe and Sol home, but
it all goes wrong when Sol is taken by the Hostiles so to save him
Nik, along with Fyffe, leave Dash and Jono behind and go across the
This book is amazing. I just could not put it down. I had to keep
reading. The book just pulls you in and makes you want to keep
reading. I would highly recommend this book, it has adventure and
danger and it truly shows you how far friends and family will go for
Tahlia Kennewell (Student)