When We Are Invisible, by Claire Zorn
A huge thank you to UQP and @ausyabloggers for hosting a book tour of this fabulous young adult novel, and for my gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.
When We Are Invisible is the follow up to the very popular and award-winning dystopian book The Sky So Heavy.
This book, however, can be read as a stand-alone - I must admit I haven't read The Sky So Heavy, but didn't feel like I'd missed anything as the author expertly inserts some backstory without dragging down the pace and action of the current story. The insertion of past events which led to the current situation is seamless and I soon found myself reading with bated breath, needing to know how the story was going to resolve (and feeling annoyed when anyone dared interrupt me! Which of course indicates an immersive and addictive read).
Lucy is the protagonist and for me her voice was the highlight of this book. A devastating nuclear winter has forced her to flee Sydney with her boyfriend Fin and his younger brother Max, seeking shelter at a fenced in settlement called Wattlewood, which promises safety from the danger and chaos of the outside world.
However, Lucy can't seem to relax and it soon becomes clear that the threat of danger inside Wattlewood might be more sinister than anything she has experienced so far during the apocalypse.
Hearing this story from Lucy's perspective is the strength of this story - she is afraid and scarred by incidents that have occurred, yet she is also strong and determined to protect the people she loves. Her voice is at times raw and full of pain and at other times zinging with humour (I love and relate to her moments of dark humour, and the witty banter between herself and Fin, adding a touch of lightness amidst the seriousness of the situation).
Through Lucy's eyes we witness the power imbalances and abuses of power that can occur not only when societal structures collapse and we think our behaviour is invisible, but also within relationships - particularly between men and women. Emotional and psychological abuse is explored in this book, and Lucy's observations about the power men are able to wield over women simply because of their physical size, provide some of the most powerful and heartbreaking scenes in this book.
This is a fast-paced yet thoughtful and character-driven read that has just the right amount of tension building to keep you hooked, and a feminist thread throughout the narrative that adds much strength and complexity to this beautifully articulated story.
A five star read for me.
Published by UPQ