'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Review: Breakdown

It's 2084 and the world is a cruel and brutal place. In the aftermath of a nuclear catastrophe, food is scarce, law and order have evaporated, and the daily struggle for survival is all-consuming. Melissa and her Nan don't have much but at least they have each other — until, that is, Nan goes out in the freezing night to get shoes for Melissa's birthday and falls, breaking her ankle.

A simple accident but one that leads to Nan's death and Melissa's kidnapping by a ruthless gang.

All Melissa has in her favour is her startling beauty and her quick brain. Shown kindness by one of the gang members, Tarquin, and adopted as a surrogate mother by Tarquin's young brother Lenny, Melissa comes up with a plan that will hopefully ensure not only her survival but also her escape from the gang. She spins a mesmerising tale of a beautiful fertile valley in Scotland, where there are animals in abundance and where crops can be grown. But only she knows how to find it.

Will Tarquin believe her? And will the promise of a better future for him and his brother be enough to ensure his loyalty?

This is a beautifully written story by an accomplished author. Sarah Mussi expertly weaves elements of Greek mythology into her post-apocalyptic setting, adding rich layers of meaning. I particularly enjoyed the way the bee is used as a powerful image of hope and regeneration throughout the book — Melissa's name means 'honey bee' while bees are also essential for successful crop pollination.

Engrossing and compelling, Breakdown is dystopian fiction of the highest quality.

Title: Breakdown
Author: Sarah Mussi
Publisher: Hot Key Books, $16.95 RRP
Publication Date: November 2014
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781471401916
For ages: 14+
Type: Young Adult Fiction

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