Havoc by Jane Higgins, Text Publishing
This is the sequel to The Bridge, which was published in 2011 after winning the 2010 Text Prize. Sequels can be difficult – how much should the author rely on readers’ abilities to recall a book read up to four years ago? My ageing brain (yes, I know I’m not the target audience) did have trouble remembering the characters in the first book. I could have done with more past events and character reminders woven into the beginning of this story. But teens who have good recall or have read The Bridge recently will be keen to re-engage with Nik (the narrator) and his close friend Lanya as they contemplate their new lives in Southside. The action starts almost straight away as a ceasefire fails and Cityside missiles start demolishing the settlements of Southside.
However, before all this, in the Prologue we meet a new character, Nomu, who’s suffering a terrible imprisonment in a Cityside fortress. Nomu returns later in the story, enabling Nik and Lanya and the Southside brigade to understand the biological weapons programme being planned by their enemies. At the same time Nik battles to discover secrets about his parents and his own background.
It’s an exciting read - there’s plenty of action and suspense to continue the momentum of The Bridge. However I recommend that readers make sure they read The Bridge before Havoc – it won’t make much sense otherwise. Also available as an e-bookG
Go to Jane Higgen's website for teaching notes.