White Night is this lovely slowly unwinding tale about highschool and first-love and sustainability and then the end is like — BAM. PUNCH YOU IN THE FEELS SO YOU CAN’T GET UP.
Nice. I did see the ending coming, but it was like this sickening feeling of watching a train hurtle off a cliff so I couldn’t look away. But wow. It manages to be light and also heavy-hitting. And I really did like it! The meandering pace isn’t usually my thing buuuut I’ve been on such a contemporary kick lately it just suited me.
Also shout out to Ellie Marney’s Every Breath series and 10/10 you must read it or I’ll eat you. It’s an Aussie Sherlock Holmes (Mycroft is smol and sad and precious) and I do quietly pick them as my favourite over White Night…but they’re really wildly different?! So I am trying not to compare!
The cover was so shiiiiny which I like in real life but the glare for the photos was a frikkin’ nightmare.
+ The story is told by Bo, who is a fantastic collision of contrasts.
He’s like this blokey block — all into impressing his dad, doing football, using super slang. BLOKEY. (If the Americans pass out in confusion here, I will revive you with Vegemite.) At first I was like “Eh” to him but then it turns out he loves cooking (!!) and family (!!) and he’s really respectful of different opinions but still cares to make his own. This kid is just such good news. I loved his narration! Except for the part where something bad happens in his family and instead of listening to an explanation he runs out the door. I swear this happens in books so much. Why doesn’t anyone LISTEN!? I’M CURIOUS. I’D LISTEN.
BASICALLY WHAT HAPPENS
Dad: Here let me explain this betrayal.
Bo: *runs out of the house*
Me: Dammit I want to hear ok. go on anyway dad dude. some of us are listening
+ Bo also meets this super nice girl called Rory who’s part of a local self-sustaining hippy community.
Rory was homeschooled but she decides to try school and Bo becomes besotted with her. It’s slow and sweet and there’s so many “will they/won’t they” moments and AH! I loved their relationship.
The community is called “Garden Of Eden” because you’re not off-the-grid until you’re collecting cliches. But it was really interesting! It presents at first as such a lowkey, harmonious place. Really chill. Not hyperbolically “THE WORLD OUTSIDE IS EVVVVVIL”…although it gets more culty and intense as the story goes. This group believes humans are ruining the world, but they’re also really tight-knit and loving. They grow their own food. Use solar. Make pottery, etc. Rory embodies this whimsical, green, free-spirited lifestyle of quirkiness…but she was also complex and emotional! Such good writing. I know people will call her a pixie dream girl –> BUT SHE’S NOT.
+ I do feel it is Quiet YA™
Which is a term I made up just now. Embrace it. Eat it. Whatever. But the plot has lots of school, pottery making, conversations, frolicking about in gardens, bike rides, etc. etc. Bo had family drama, but it wasn’t highkey enough for me to panic over it. And I loved the subplot of Bo’s friend Sprog (THIS IS SO AUSSIE) who is a complete bogan but then tidies himself up to be proactive in saving the skate park from being closed down. He has a horrible home life and he was funny and dorky and just (!!!) petition to read a book just for Sprog. But overall I was a bit surprised at how little went down??? I liked the writing (except the slang was sometimes confusing to me, and I am Australia, so woah) and I was interested in the character’s lives so it wasn’t boring. I just wanted more…moreness.
+ Ending = INTENSE.
Like I said: I saw it coming but still. The build up was intense and excruciating and leaves you feeling gut-punched way before it happens.
White Night is a balance of the average tough Aussie outback life vs a closed-off gardeny cult commune. The good and the bad of both. It had a lot to say about social issues and didn’t over-preach (!!) and Bo was a fantastic cook so, ya know, that’s my language. I just tried not to turn myself into an inconspicuous scone and mail myself to Peru every time they talked football. I don’t sport. But otherwise: GREAT.
THANK YOU ALLEN & UNWIN FOR THE REVIEW COPY. White Night by Ellie Marney was published March 2018.
In Bo Mitchell’s country town, a ‘White Night’ light-show event has the potential to raise vital funds to save the skate park. And out of town, a girl from a secretive off-the-grid community called Garden of Eden has the potential to change the way Bo sees the world. But are there too many secrets in Eden?
As Bo is drawn away from his friends and towards Rory, he gradually comes to believe that Eden may not be utopia after all, and that their group leader’s goal to go off the grid may be more permanent – and more dangerous – than anyone could have predicted.
A wonderfully compelling novel from the acclaimed author of the Every series.