Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Steve Augarde
For ages 14 and up
Random House UK, 2009   ISBN: 978-1849920124

A few years ago, Baz’s normal life was turned upside down. Earth’s weather went haywire, and now much of the world is under water. Thousands of people, including Baz’s mum and sister, have died, and now the people in Baz’s community don’t have any electricity, running water, or many other basic neccessities. There is also very little food, which is why Baz decides that he will leave his home with his dad and go to live on X Isle. Young boys from the small mainland communities are taken to X Isle to work, and in return they get a roof over their heads and three meals a day.

When Baz is chosen to go to X Isle he is elated. At least he will no longer be a burden on his father. On the boat to X Isle, Baz meets a boy called Ray, and he quickly finds himself protecting the smaller boy. Ray needs the protection too, because the situation on X Isle is far from ideal. There are ten boys in all working and living there with two older boys, “capos” who are there to keep the young boys in line. The capos achieve this goal by treating the younger boys with great cruelty, working them very hard and giving them very little to eat. At first Baz tends to fend for himself, but he quickly learns that the only way he will survive is if he and the rest of the workers help one another.

Though the conditions on X Isle are harsh, Baz and Ray are determined to stay, and then they find out that the man in charge of X Isle is quite literally mad, and he is also extremely dangerous. Threatened on many fronts, the boys decide that they have to do something drastic to ensure their survival. Ray comes up with a solution that is terrible, and yet at the same time, it might be the only recourse the boys have.

This gritty and sometimes shocking novel gives readers a picture of what the world might be like in the future. It will be an every-man-for-himself world, full of desperate people who will do desperate things to survive. For this story, the author has created wonderfully realistic characters that readers will quickly grow to like, or hate.