Friday, November 8, 2013

Dystopian with birds - what's not to love?

Nest of LiesNest of Lies by Heather McQuillan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's no secret that I love birds - so when I discovered a dystopian novel set in my home city, with birds as a core element, I had to snap it up. What amazes me is that I never picked it up sooner!
I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself into Ashlee's world, which was familiar but at the same time utterly alien. It was fun trying to pick up the places from their slightly altered names. In not-too-many words, McQuillan introduces us to the Citadel - with its overgrown, abandoned houses. Where the guards watch out for the threat from the sky - the birds that brought with them the Plague many years before, a plague that decimated the human race.

But were the birds really to blame?

With characters like the Greenie, Whaleman, it would have been easy for this novel to slip into eco-preaching, but it does not and he is a strong and likeable character, counterbalanced with the scientist, "Egghead", Mynah. McQuillan manages to touch on both sides of the arguement, whilst keeping the pace steady and enjoyable. Mynah is likewise a fun character, despite her name (I dislike mynah birds), but it is - of course - Felix that steals the show. Ika was fun too. I enjoyed watching the characters' personalities grow throughout the novel, although for such a small book it does have a rather large cast, and some were not given enough room to shine. I would like to see a sequel, as there are numerous questions left unanswered.

I also enjoyed the allusions to various fairy tales.

Overall, a fine read from a local author.

(At first it bugged me when I discovered the scientists, Eggheads, were named for extinct birds  - because I was thinking but magpie, raven and mynah are opportunistic scavengers and will eat anything - if the human race were to end, then they would surely flourish. Then I remembered that the birds had died from the same plague as the humans - and therefore any bird that eats carrion is likely to be more susceptible. Not sure if Heather considered that or not, but it works with my mental reasoning!)

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