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

Friday, 11 August 2017

Review: The Ones that Disappeared

When I read Zana Fraillon's award-winning The Bone Sparrow, I thought she'd reached the pinnacle in storytelling, but then she created The Ones that Disappeared.

Three children live in darkness, tending forbidden plants. They do nothing, are nothing, know nothing except what their captives tell them.

When everything goes wrong, they dare to escape. They understand that to leave means being chased mercilessly to the death. Their captors have executed other runners in front of them as a warning. But they run anyway.

Esra and Miran, who are in their early teens, try to protect the younger Isa. Skeet is a ring-in of sorts with issues of his own. Through these four voices, the essence of child slavery is revealed, and so much more.

What is it like to be branded for life? What is it like not to dream, because doing so only causes despair. With human street rats, real foxes in the wild and traitors at every turn, it's hard to find hope in Zana Fraillon's dark world, especially when cold-blooded murder is every day vocabulary for their Snakeskin captors.

Esra and Isa are free at last, but they can't head for home without Miran. Skeet, who knows nothing of child slavery or the Snakeskins, befriends Esra and Isa. Together the three find laughter and friendship and face life-threatening situations.

The Ones that Disappeared chilled me to the bone because it was so real, but it opened up a world I needed to see. Although I saw between the quiet spaces where the hope offered in this story might not exist for many, I needed that light touch to see the narrative through to the end.

My hope is that tens of thousands read The Ones that Disappeared and in doing so, a ground swell of action builds to fight for the millions lost to this very frightening, very real world.

Title: The Ones that Disappeared
Author: Zana Fraillon
Publisher: Lothian, an imprint of Hachette, $19.99
Publication Date: 27 June 2017
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780734417152
For ages: 13 years +
Type: Young Adult


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