Tuesday 5 November 2013

The Big Dry

The Big Dry by Tony Davis (Harper Collins)
PB RRP $15.95
ISBN 9780732297633
Reviewed by Sharon McGuinness

A country gripped by drought has its people living on the edge, battling every day for survival. Not only is the weather intensely hot and dry, but ‘blasters’, the savage dust and wind storms are a constant threat. ‘Wanderers’ roam the area, stealing whatever food they can, murdering to survive, while unattended children under 7 are taken by ‘Welfare’ for their protection. Living under these conditions is indeed a precarious existence.
George and his brother Beeper live with their father, who leaves one day to buy whatever food he can. When he fails to return, George’s survival instincts take over when he must assume responsibility for his younger brother.
Alone, except for their estranged neighbour, Mr Carey, George encounters Emily, an abandoned  teenage girl who is able to somehow unlock their door, walk into their house and their lives, threatening the little security they have left.
This is a futuristic story – a dystopian world where climate change has created an environmental catastrophe. It is also about the will to survive and family. ‘Sometimes, says Emily, ‘you have to make family out of whoever’s about.’ 
It will suit readers aged 13 and over and is well written – you can almost taste the dust in the air. While the story focuses on a world that fraught with terror, it is still hopeful. The ending remains slightly open, possibly paving the way for a sequel.

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