I really liked this book. It’s like the Australian version of Animorphs.
Set in the landmass of Pangaea after a catastrophic global event completely rearranged the planet- nationhood and, oestensibly, racism are dead*. Instead the last of humanity has banded together in the seven great cities (there used to be eight). Ashala and her lost-boys-esque tribe are a mix of children on the run from the government because they have a connection to nature the average human does not, which gives them powers and special affinities with particular animals. Some have geological (earthquakes) or meteorlogical (rain or wind) abilities, but the disinction is never discussed and possibly from a cultural viewpoint (author Ambelin Kwaymullina is a Palyku woman) is irrelevant.
Illegals are put in detention unless they fall into one of the exremely narrow categories deemed useful to the state, such as healers.
*Nationalism is alive and well however, and the state controls the populace with a carefully maintained rhetoric concerning the Balance of Nature, which illegals supposedly exist outside of. The eight city was inadvertently destroyed by a young girl with a rain calling ability and the body of water that remains is called Lake Remembrance. The safety of all is contingent on the control of the illegals who pose an ever present threat. Children are assessed and branded before being removed from their homes if they fail the test.
Here be spoilers- my favourite character is the rainbow serpent, who dispenses advice to a sleeping Ashala from a lake.
I love that in the chaos of the apocalypse, the creation spirits decided that dinosaurs needed another go. Absolutely here for that.
As much as I loathe telepathy, in this it more or less fits. I tried to ignore my well established aversion to it by thinking of it in terms of a continuing motif of connection to and communication with nature- plants and animals, rather than telepathy in the scifi sense.
I generally don’t like romance in books very much, because it often feels shoehorned in and often derails the plot and in a narrative where time is of the essence I prefer characters not to be mooning around talking about their feelings instead of getting the job done. That being said, although I spent a lot of time screeching at Ashala for being oblivious, I didn’t mind the relationship stuff in this over all. Much.
I love Ashala, Ember and Georgie. They are cool girls. They are good in a crisis. They work together to make the most of their powers. I love that they’re not described in archetypes like the smart one or the pretty one or the funny one. They’re all all of those things.
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is part onw of a very satisfying trilogy so have at it!
I give it 3.5 dinosaurs out of 5.