Wednesday, January 31, 2018

"From the Wreck" by Jane Rawson

I read this book as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2018.  The book was set in South Australia during the 1800s, and the key incident in the book is the 1859 shipwreck of the SS Admella which I believe was a real event in history. I enjoyed the little historical snippets throughout the book giving glimpses of what life in Adelaide during the 1800s was like, and how some of the places described are still so recognisable today e.g. the botanic gardens and the lily pond and the grand buildings on North Terrace.

However, this is not your typical historical novel about a shipwreck -there is also a strong element of science fiction throughout and it is a very unique story. One of the main characters in the book, George Hills, survives the shipwreck, apparently through the help of a female passenger on the ship, Miss Ledwith who turns out to be a shape-shifting alien being rather than a human.  

Many of the sections written from the point of view of the alien reminded me in style to some of Neil Gaimon's writing...seemingly free-flowing, dream-like/nightmarish scenes, not always comprehensible, but dark and creative and strange yet captivating too.

I didn't really love the book, and found some of the characters very superficially described, but I did appreciate the uniqueness of it, and the 'creative writing' feel to it, so I am giving it 7/10.

Started reading this book on my kindle 30/01/2018
Finished: 07/02/2018
My score: 7/10
Aussie Author Challenge stats: Female Author, New to me Author, Genre: Mix of science fiction and historical fiction.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

"Terra Nullius" by Claire G. Coleman

Started reading on: 18th January 2018 as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2018.
This book was recommended to me by the owners of Adelaide's Pop-Up Bookshop. The author is an indigenous Australian from W.A. and has won a "Black & Write" fellowship in 2016.

Wow... the Aussie Author Challenge 2018 is certainly off to a good start, with a 10/10 score from me for a book written by an author who was new to me - Claire G. Coleman. Even if this book had solely been an historical novel based on the invasion of Australia by the British and the horrors of what was done by many 'Settlers' to the 'Native' population, this book would have been powerful and had a strong impact on me. But this book is so much more than that. As it says on the back cover "This is not the Australia of our history. This Terra Nullius is something new, but all too familiar." For the first approx. 120 pages it does indeed feel like you are thrown into the dark history of Australia in the late 1800s-early 1900s, with Native characters being 're-educated' by Settlers in harsh outback religious schools, slaves attempting futile escape attempts from their cruel masters on farms, and being tracked by Troopers who have the upper hand in terms of weaponry and technology but little outback survival skills and who secretly just wish they could get back on a ship to go home to their motherland. However there comes a point where something strikingly unexpected dawns on you as the reader and becomes more apparent as you progress, and this surprising twist really hits home. I want to say so much more as this book is a page-turner while also emotionally hitting home and making you consider our history in a different light and even made me question humanity in some ways. But I can't say more, as I don't want to ruin the surprise at the heart of this book - you just have to read it for yourself. I thoroughly recommend it.

Started reading: 18th January 2018
Finished: 31st January 2018
My score: 10/10
Genre: Historical fiction
Read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2018: Female author & new to me author.