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

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Review: Voicing the Dead

Gary Crew’s outstanding new novel features a real historical event. It follows the life and adventures of Jack (John) Ireland, cabin boy on the barque Charles Eaton that ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef in 1834. The survivors of the shipwreck escaped on two hand-made rafts and sailed to different islands. The people on one raft were all murdered. The second raft which held Jack Ireland was pulled in by head-hunters. This is the riveting account of Jack’s life before and after the shipwreck.

For some unknown reason, fourteen year old Jack, eighteen month old William D’Oyley, his older brother George, and John Sexton were not beheaded. John and George were taken away by the leader of another island. John is later killed there.

Jack and William are bought by a childless couple and taken to the island of Mer. There they remained until their rescue after years of captivity.

Their struggles to maintain sanity and hope are strongly projected through the powerful scenes, dynamic descriptions, and overwhelming compassion and acceptance for the natives they lived with and their way of life.

This brilliant novel is perhaps Gary Crew’s magnum opus for this work is the result of an incredible amount of research. Crew uses the experimental genre fictocriticism, a style seldom used in modern works, where philosophical and critical arguments become part of the non-fiction narrative through Jack Ireland’s voice.

He also uses ‘Lit Tripping’ to utilise extracts from literature of the future to highlight his arguments, fitting them perfectly into the story’s context. This Lit Tripping also allows the narrator to show evidence of the frequent manipulation of facts by those who recorded history in the past, and proves how often what is written, is not always the real or whole version of events.

Many scenes are extremely graphic, but they report the realities of those times. This is definitely a book for mature Young Adults. The characters are alive on the pages and the narrative voice is one of courage and honesty.

Title: Voicing the Dead
Author: Gary Crew
Publisher: FORD ST Publishing, $19.95 RRP
Publication Date: August 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781925272055
For ages: 15+
Type: Non Fiction

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