Tag Archives: Sarah Govett

Bookwitch bites #146

Bookwitch hasn’t ‘bitten’ for a long time. But better late than never.

Danny Weston has a new book out, which he launched in Edinburgh on Friday. He had to do it without me, but I gather it went well enough despite this. It’s called Inchtinn, Island of Shadows. Danny had even baked Inchtinn cakes. I bet he ate most of them himself, or possibly his friend Philip Caveney helped with the eating. (I won’t post that picture here. It is too dreadful.)

Danny Weston, Inchtinn

If it’s dreadful you’re after, you only need to look at this photo from when the witch met Vaseem Khan at Bloody Scotland last month. Vaseem looks just fine, but, well, that creature on the left… Sorry.

Vaseem Khan Twitter

That was the event when we discussed humour and how important it is, while not being taken seriously (!) by enough publishers. This is what Sarah Govett has found as well. After her dystopian trilogy a few years ago, she has tackled teen humour, much in the vein of Louise Rennison. If she’s to be believed – and I see no reason why not – teens are crying out for more funny books. India Smythe Stands Up is the book for you, fresh from Sarah’s keyboard.

Sarah Govett, India Smythe Stands Up

It’s important to keep track of children’s books. Even the Resident IT Consultant seems to feel this. I was a little surprised to find his companion in the holiday reading sofa, but who am I to say anything?

Daniel Hahn, Children's Literature

And, I knew this news was coming, but it’s still good to have it confirmed. There is another book from Meg Rosoff. It’s old YA, or some such thing. And not very long, apparently. We will have to wait until next summer, but the witch who waits for something good… (The Great Godden, since you ask.)

Meg Rosoff book news

The Territory – Truth

And here we are at last, the end is nigh, but what sort of end? Noa and her few surviving friends are about to do the impossible; break out of the Wetlands and back into the real place, where people actually have a chance of survival, if they do not go against the ruling politicians.

Sarah Govett, The Territory - Truth

But they are not just trying to get back to where they came from; they are doing it in the hopes that what they are planning might put an end to the uploads of propaganda into the minds of their peers. And that way perhaps their world stands a chance of returning to some kind of normal.

Sarah Govett’s third instalment of her Territory trilogy does not disappoint. It’s as gripping as the other two books, and while you feel you ‘know’ things will go well – maybe – you find it hard to believe, and you don’t see how it can work. Even if they do return, and even if they do that thing they have planned, it doesn’t deal with what started the awful situation in the first place.

Some of the means could even be said to have been well intentioned, but then what happens to politicians happened, and you can imagine the rest. They always go crazy, to a greater or lesser extent.

There are deaths here too. Ones you’d rather not had happened. And our group of young heroes do stuff they’d rather not have done.

And still the conundrum remains; how to solve all of it.

Let’s just say that there was one aspect to the sorry state of things that I completely overlooked.

The good news for anyone who didn’t read the earlier books is that now you can read all three in one fell swoop, with no long waits. I was about to offer no nail-biting, but realised that that would be going too far.

The Territory – Escape

The second instalment in Sarah Govett’s trilogy set in a future Territory is as great as the first. With all my newfound fears regarding dystopias, I worried that Escape wouldn’t be able to grab me. For one, I felt the premise that two of the – teen – main characters would willingly attempt to enter the dreadful place where others are sent to die, in order to rescue the third main character, was a bit much. I mean, how could they, and surely there couldn’t be a happily ever after even if they did?

But, the story drags you in before you know where you are. Which is the Wetlands, since you ask.

You know that something will go wrong, and something else will – hopefully – go right, but my first theory proved incorrect. Which is good, because it wasn’t a terribly good one.

Noa and Raf seem pretty naïve in their planning to go after Jack, but by sheer determination these two get further than you’d think. And that’s when things don’t happen as expected, for anyone.

Sarah Govett, The Territory - Escape

This is exciting and inspiring, but – given our current circumstances – worrying nevertheless. I’m glad there are characters out there, in fiction, doing what many of us would never dream of attempting, let alone be successful at.

The way the book ends, I can see what they must try and do, but I can’t see how they will be able to make it happen. As it’s fiction, I imagine it will work, somehow, and not quite everyone will die trying.

So, not just ‘another flooded dystopian romance.’ And I suppose knowing what moss or seaweed you can or can’t eat will come in handy one day.

The Territory

(Review spoiler alert; The Territory is a terrific book. It simply is.)

When Sarah Govett’s publicist approached me about reading The Territory, I replied that it really didn’t sound like what I’d want to read right now, but that actually seeing a copy of the novel might change my mind. (I know, I’m a bundle of optimism and polite phrases.)

It was the blurb, really:  ‘The Territory is a gripping dystopian thriller set in a future Britain where unflooded land is scarce. Everyone must pass an exam at 15 to stay in The Territory or be exiled to the disease-ridden Wetlands. But how can Noa compete when the system is skewed to favour rich kids who can upload information through a Node in the back of their neck? And how can she focus when her heart is being pulled in two directions at once?’

You know, just another flooded dystopian romance.

Sarah Govett, The Territory

But as they say, the proof is in the reading. I was really sleepy when I started on The Territory, well past my bedtime. No, I didn’t sit up all night. I just couldn’t. But I would have. It’s an admirably short book at 200 pages, and I reckoned there would be no need to read the second and third parts of the trilogy.

Yeah, right. (When will they be available??) The Territory is published on 14th May, so I am early here, but simply couldn’t not review it straight away.

Enough about me and my stupidity. This is a mind-numbingly chilling read, set in 2059, when meat is non-existent and food scarce, and children are sent away to die if they fail their exams. Noa and her best friends Jack and Daisy are Norms, which means they don’t have the expensive Node in their necks to assist with passing exams, like rich kids have. Noa is clever, but the other two are less sure of how they might do. (If you try not to sit your exams you are dead. Likewise if you try to run away afterwards.) And as a reader it’s hard to keep your thoughts off the fact that we already appear to be marching towards this kind of society.

Pets are no longer allowed, and the tale of Noa’s former pet dog is worse to read than you’d think. Likewise Noa’s realisation that she would have killed Anne Frank.

Noa is far from perfect, which is why she comes across as so real. Written in the first person we learn all about how ‘lame’ everything is, as you’d expect from a 15-year-old. And when you mix that normality, however dystopian, with the casual clubbing down of people in the street, you know you have something really exceptional.

It’s obvious that the exam results will mean either that some or all of them will fail the exams and spend the next two books trying to stay alive in the Wetlands, or that they pass and stay in civilisation, fighting against the Ministry. I won’t tell you which it is.

This is so good.