A dystopian adventure that doesn’t disappoint, Amber Cayley
June 08, 2021
Is it climate change? What about bacteria? Could it be genetics? How does it spread? When a virus takes hold of the world, altering the human race and rewinding evolution, Charlie Rutherford must act fast to save his very own species in Neands by Dan Salmon.
Charlie’s parents are scientists. His father tried to warn the world what would happen, they didn’t listen, and his father was found drowned in the harbour (he was a great swimmer). Soon his mum disappears too, and Charlie is left to fend for himself in a world full of ignorance. That is until a co-worker of his parents comes knocking on his door…
When he goes to live with Ngaire, Alan, Pru and Ivy, Charlie begins to discover more about the virus and the changes happening to all those around him. His school mates are changing, his teachers are changing, and all remaining humans are forced to cower in terror as kind, clever humans become hairy, dumb neands. When a plot twist appears suddenly, the fate of the human race is thrusted upon the three teens.
Set in a dystopian Auckland, Neands makes coronavirus look like a teddy bear. I think it’s important to be able to relate to a book and Neands is certainly a relatable book, what with the virus in the novel and the Covid-19 pandemic last year it certainly helps get a better perspective of the protagonists’ lives. I think the fact that the main characters are also teenagers gives yet another connection to Neands.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the newspaper clippings, text messages and pages from Charlie’s notebook add even more depth to the already thought-provoking book. I love sci-fi and dystopian novels, so Neands is a big win-win for me. It is instantly hooking and on the very first page there is the sentence: “Change only the name and this story could be about you.” This is an instant eye-opener, especially after reading the blurb ‘‘evolution got it wrong and the human race is being threatened at the core of its DNA”, umm……yeah I hope that never happens. It certainly gives you a different viewpoint as you read into the night.
Neands ends on a cliffhanger so I am very hopeful that there will be a second or even third book to follow, and the big number one on the spine hints that there might be. If there is, it will definitely be on the top of my to-read list, and I can’t wait to find out what happens to Pru, Ivy and Charlie next. I would suggest Neands to all sci-fi and dystopian fans and those 12 and up. If you want an adventure or you are simply looking for a good read, look for Neands in your local library or bookstore and I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.
Be careful: you never know when evolution will begin to rewind, and you’ll be constantly looking over your shoulder for a big, hairy neand. So, consider yourself warned!
- Amber Cayley is in year 9 at Sacred Heart Girls’ College in New Plymouth.