This is a completely absorbing science-fiction read which is very cleverly written in four parts from a dual narrative with extra information being presented as newspaper reports. The short chapters kept me wanting just one more chapter – a genuinely compulsive read!
The story opens with a news report about missing 12-year-old Tamara (Tammy) Tait from the small village of Kielder. It then switches to another planet with the shocking revelation that a young girl is being exhibited in a ‘human zoo.’ One of the inhabitants there, Hellyann, makes a dangerous and courageous decision that changes many lives … and leads to an incredible adventure.
Meanwhile, Tammy’s family are left to cope with their worst nightmare, and the devastating loss, grief and breakdowns this causes. Their feelings and reactions are heartachingly portrayed and there is a real authenticity to how the small community pulls together to help their own.
Tammy’s twin brother, Ethan, feels the weight of his guilt at his parting words with his sister, and is determined to do his absolute best to find her. This leads him to make incredible discoveries, develop wonderful friendships and to travel further than he ever thought possible … the tension is palpable as Ethan and his friends Iggy and Hellyann find themselves in a race to keep secrets hidden, secrets that if unravelled could risk him ever being reunited with his sister.
Ethan is an incredibly sympathetic young boy who fights through his fear and self-doubt to show an inner strength, resilience and single-minded determination to prove himself: to try his absolute best!
I found Hellyann a fascinating and wonderfully endearing character with a unique voice. She lives amongst a race who are devoid, and fearful, of feelings, in a sterilised society with a darkness and desire to control beneath the surface. However, Hellyann feels strongly, so strongly that she becomes an activist, a decision that leads to her endangering herself, but one that also leads to her forming a close bond with Ethan and Iggy.
There is so much opportunity for discussion based on this story from exploring themes of loss, grief, family and friendship to an exploration of animal and human rights, activism and the nature of society, not to mention the belief in the existence of alien life forms!
This is a gripping action-packed, heart-warming adventure for children of 10+.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book to review on behalf of a Book Review site. My review is my honest opinion of the book.