Published: July 2012 by Walker Books
Format: Paperback, 397 pages
Genres: Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic
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“There will come a day when a thousand Illegals descend on your detention centers. Boomers will breach the walls. Skychangers will send lightning to strike you all down from above, and Rumblers will open the earth to swallow you up from below. . . . And when that day comes, Justin Connor, think of me.”
Ashala Wolf has been captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose, a man who is intent on destroying Ashala’s Tribe — the runaway Illegals hiding in the Firstwood. Injured, vulnerable, with her Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to the machine that will pull secrets from her mind.
And right beside her is Justin Connor, her betrayer, watching her every move.
Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?
It’s hard to believe that The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is a début novel. It’s rich prose, brilliantly imagined world, and nuanced characters are sure to impress a wide ranging audience.
I love the world-building in this novel! It’s a dystopian world based on Australia with Dreamtime mythologies – like the Serpent – cleverly weaved into it. Ashala Wolf lives in a world ravaged by the affects of technological mismanagement and neglect for the environment. There’s only one remaining land-mass. IT is split up into seven large cities, separated by wilderness, where most of the population lives. The survivors of this catastrophe live their lives to preserve the Balance and some believe that people like Ashala – Illegals, who have strange abilities – do not fit into the Balance. Those with harmless or controllable powers are granted Exemptions from the government and are allowed to live as Citizens in the cities, but many are forced to flee and live in the wild. Ashala is one of the leaders of The Tribe, a group of children who have run away from the Cities before their assessments who now eke out a living in the Firstwood.
When we begin the novel, Ashala has been captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose: a man bent on wiping out Illegals, who has his sights set on The Tribe. Ashala is quick-thinking, brave, and incredibly smart – everything one needs in a rebellious hero! I love how loyal she is to her Tribe, even the people she really doesn’t owe any loyalty to.
Ashala leads the Tribe with the help of Ember Crow and Georgie Spider, and this amazing trio looks after all the younger children who have run away from the Cities. Ember and Georgie are great secondary characters, but I’m really excited that they each get their own books in the series. I really want to know more about both of them! Other secondary characters in the book include Jaz, a cute and super cheeky kid that Ashala has a soft spot for, and Justin, who captured Ashala and brought her to in to be questioned. They are all well-crafted, believable characters.
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is a little unusually structured – large parts of the story are told in flashback form. This is in part because of the Machine – it extracts memories from the person being interrogated – but there’s another (spoilery) reason for it all (by the way, the plotting of this novel is superb!). While some books become confusing when there are time-jumps, flashbacks, and memories involved, I found this novel easy to follow. I think much of the brilliance of the book rests on how the author chose to tell us this story.
This is an excellent novel, one that I think deserves a home on the bookshelves of every reader of dystopian and post-apocalytpic fiction. Featuring a brilliant new voice in Australian literature, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf s sure to impress. I’ll running out to grab the sequel, The Disappearance of Ember Crow, and will be on the lookout for the third book, The Foretelling of Georgie Spider, which will be available later in 2015. The Execution of Neville Rose, the fourth instalment, is scheduled for release in 2016.