Book Review: Havoc, by Jane Higgins

cv_havocAvailable in bookstores nationwide.

This was an incredibly tightly-paced page-turner of a story. Havoc is the sequel to Jane Higgins’ Text Prize-winning YA book The Bridge (Text, 2012). Do read The Bridge before beginning this book, as while I had done so back in 2012, I did find it hard to jump right into the action with no full redux of the important relationships, political and personal, from the previous book.

Havoc is based, as The Bridge was, in a city torn apart by factions that are warring across racial and economic lines. The Citysiders and the Breken are the two sides, and our protagonist Nikolai Stais is the only son of the chief spy for the Breken group, a fact he only really became aware of during the adventures of the previous book. As the book opens, a ceasefire is holding briefly, which is soon shattered by Cityside launching a missile, which kills tens of Breken and re-ignites antagonism. In the aftermath of the missile, which destroys one of the bridges to Southside, Nik finds a girl who doesn’t speak Anglo or Breken, and saves her from being buried beneath rubble. She is muttering something about ‘havoc’. Soon after the missile, Cityside surrounds the Southside suburb of Moldam with barbed wire.

Nik and his (more than a) friend Lanya are dispatched to the City to try and raise the faction over there that supports the Breken’s equal rights; a group called One City. The two work with a slippery character called Sandor to get across the river, and Nik’s education on Cityside works in his favour for awhile, but the limits of his relationship with everybody close to him are tested sorely in the course of resolution.

I kept picking this book up and thinking ‘I’ll just read one chapter’, and finishing five chapters down, needing to go to sleep. It is a well-plotted, and extremely tightly written post-catastrophe story, perfect for anybody who loved Mandy Hager’s Blood of the Lamb trilogy, or Fleur Beale’s Juno of Taris trilogy.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

by Jane Higgins
Published by Text Publishing
ISBN 9781922147295

Book review: The Bridge by Jane Higgins

This book is in bookshops now and is a finalist in the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.

I hope this author writes more books because this was an action packed adventure that kept me guessing the whole time!

It is a fantasy adventure novel about a city at war. There are two sides in the city, Cityside and Southside and they are separated by a river. Both sides want to be in control. When the Southside bomb the Cityside, Fyffe’s brother is kidnapped and the adventure begins.

The story centres on two teenage friends, Nik and Fyffe who go over the bridge to the Southside to look for Fyffe’s brother Sol after he has been kidnapped. Nik and Fyffe had always been told the Southside was full of danger and the people were evil and cruel. As the adventure continues, they realise that things are not always as they seem. Nik ends up in a lot of trouble when they confuse him with the enemy and his life is in danger. In the story you will find fighting, danger and heart stopping twists.

I recommend this book for young adults who enjoy reading fantasy and adventure novels. The map at the start of the book was really useful because I could check it as I read and it helped me figure out where everything was.

I think this would be a great book to make into a movie for young adults.

I love that this book was written by a New Zealander because it proves that we have great writers here in our country. Thanks Jane Higgins!

Review written by Isaac Nicholls (13 years)

The Bridge
by Jane Higgins
(Text Publishing Company)
ISBN 9781921758331