War of the Wind is a powerful, intense, action-packed eco-thriller that completely gripped me both with its edgy mystery, and its authentic portrayal of the lives of children with additional support needs who are central to solving the mystery.
Fourteen-year-old Max has been deaf for two years, following a boating accident on his father’s trawler two years before, and he is finding life really tough. He is excited to learn that wind turbines are coming to Scragness Island, not so much for the cheap energy they will provide, but because they will also be providing mobile phone coverage and internet access, giving him a better opportunity to communicate.
However, after noticing strange lights at the substation and finding dead bats, Max begins to worry that there may be a more sinister reason for the wind turbines on the island. Could they be related to the unwelcome changes taking place on the island, changes that could put the islanders at risk? When Max discovers that the island is being used as part of a secret government experiment, being led by a sinister scientist, he is determined to shut it down before island life implodes. With the help of three classmates with additional support needs, they begin to uncover the terrifying truth and the depth of the danger that the islanders face.
I was absolutely gripped – and fascinated – by the premise behind the experiment, unable to put the book down as the tension built almost unbearably as the calculated manipulations of a cold villain warred with the brave, clever and determined teenagers intent on thwarting him.
This story is told in the first person: Max’s voice is incredibly authentic and honest, flaws and all. Max is a teenager who is fighting a battle both within himself to come to terms with his profound deafness as well as on the outside with his struggle to stop the experiment taking place on his island home. He is angry and frustrated that his hearing has been taken from him; that he has seemingly been replaced in his parents’ affections by a baby sister; that his father is unwilling to communicate with him in writing and accept his disability; and, that his friends have deserted him and are now treating him in the same dreadful way they treated all the ‘specials’.
This would be a fantastic story to open up discussions around a number of themes, including bullying, communication, navigating changing relationships within family and friendship groups, disability and environmental change. It is definitely a story that will encourage empathy and I can absolutely see it being a brilliant Reading Group text.
This is a stunning, thought-provoking and insightful thriller with the intricacies and importance of communication and relationships at its heart. An absolute must-read, and a brilliant addition for secondary school libraries.
Thank you to Neem Tree Press for providing me with a proof copy in exchange for my honest opinion.