Walker Books Australia have introduced me to some of my favourite books and authors – Brian Falkner, Lara Morgan, and Patrick Ness. When they sent me some information about an exciting new series that they were publishing, called The Tribe, I knew that it would be great. Like many Young Adult novels at the moment, it’s set in a future world, but The Tribe has plenty to set it apart from the rest.
Three hundred years later, and the society that emerged from the ruins of the old world are obsessed with maintaining “the Balance” between all life. They live in harmony with each other, and the earth. It is almost a perfect world. Except for one thing.
Anyone born with an ability is seen as a threat to the Balance. They are feared, controlled and locked away in detention centres. Ashala Wolf has run away to avoid such a fate. Along with the other runaways she calls her Tribe, she lives in the vast Firstwood. Her Tribe is defying the government –and the government doesn’t like defiance.
Can the Tribe survive their oppressors and transform the world in which they live?
“There will come a day when a thousand Illegals descend on your detention centres. Boomers will breach the walls. Skychangers will send lightning to strike you all down from above, and Rumblers will open the earth to swallow you up from below … And when that day comes, Justin Connor, think of me.”
Ashala Wolf has been captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose. A man who is intent on destroying Ashala’s Tribe – the runaway Illegals hiding in the Firstwood. Injured and vulnerable and with her Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to the machine that will pull secrets from her mind. And right beside her is Justin Connor, her betrayer, watching her every move. Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is a refreshing, futuristic adventure, full of twists and turns. The story is like a puzzle that you have to fit together as you read. At the beginning we don’t know much about Ashala and her life with the tribe, but through her memories we piece together how she came to live in the Firstwood with the rest of the Tribe. The main part of the story concentrates on the interrogation that Ashala faces at the hands of the Chief Administrator, Neville Rose, who is trying to extract information from her about the Tribe. All children with abilities are supposed to be rounded up and imprisoned in detention centres so that the government can keep them, and their abilities, under control. However, the Tribe lives free in the Firstwood and Neville Rose will stop at nothing to find them and capture them.
I really liked Ambelin’s characters, especially Ashala. Ashala is the leader of the Tribe and a mother-figure for the other children. She’s incredibly strong and will do anything she can to protect her Tribe and keep them free, including putting herself in danger. Jaz was the other character who really stood out for me because he’s got heaps of personality.
The main reason The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf stands out from other Young Adult books like it is because of the cultural and spiritual connection that Ambelin has given to her characters. Each of the Tribe has connections to an animal, which means that they can communicate with them. For Ashala it’s the wolf, and other characters are connected to crows, spiders, and even the dinosaur-like creatures called Saurs. When the Tribe first enters the Firstwood they must make a promise to the trees that they will not harm them in any way and that they will protect them if needed. Ashala also communicates with the spirit of her ancestors who offer advice and protect her along the way.
The story comes to a satisfying conclusion, with no specific lead-in to the next book, but there is plenty more I want to know about this world. Why do some children get powers? What is it like in one of the big cities? Is this the last we see of Neville Rose? I’ll be eagerly awaiting book two in this exciting new series.
4 out of 5 stars
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