A slow start with a big reveal, Jessica Skudder
Havoc is a fiction novel written by New Zealand author, Jane Higgins. Havoc is a sequel to Jane Higgins’s first novel, The Bridge, but after reading Havoc and having never read The Bridge, I personally feel that the novels could be read in either order and still be excellent reads. Havoc is written in first person view and is set in a country where the citizens are in constant danger due to the two sides, Southside and Cityside, being at war. The story follows Nik and Lanya as they, along with Sandor, cross the river, brave the soldiers and venture into Cityside.
Nik is the main protagonist with most of the novel remaining focused around him. Nik is the person that puts all the thought and organising into every plan, but even then, in contrast to that, he feels like he needs to be getting out there and doing something. Throughout the novel, Nik is constantly being swayed between the two places that he belongs to and he feels compelled to make a decision between the two. Nik feels like he doesn’t really have a home, somewhere that he belongs, as well as believing that home is not a place, it’s where the people you love and that love you are: “‘My home’s not a place,’ I said. ‘It’s you, and Levkova and my father, I guess, and … all those people who make room in their lives for strays.’”
Lanya is the other protagonist in Havoc, although the novel remains focused on Nik and is written from his point of view. Lanya is Nik’s best friend from Southside, although scattered throughout the novel are scenes that show that their relationship is becoming more of a romantic one. Lanya is a character who doesn’t really think things through, she just wants to make a plan and then get out there and be doing something. Lanya is really headstrong and independent and always has to be doing something even if it doesn’t benefit her at all, which is a sharp contrast to Nik, who feels like everything has to be planned out and organised to make sure that absolutely nothing can go wrong.
I feel like Havoc has a bit of a slow start and I found it difficult to really get into it at times. I also found that, because of the way that it is written with all these different characters and events happening, it is not the kind of book you could put down for a couple days and then pick up where you left off.
Havoc is the type of book that has a big build up to a huge event or reveal near the end, like a lot of books that I read, but has more of just a constant flow of events and revelations about the main character. Havoc is a novel that I thoroughly enjoyed after I got pulled into and really focused on the characters and their lives. At the start, I struggled to get sucked into the book and really enjoy it but, as I progressed through the book, I felt more connected with the characters and wrapped up within the plot line.
All in all, I feel like Havoc was a good book after you got connected with the characters and you were really sucked into the novel. I would recommend Havoc for people who normally read Young Adult genre books. Havoc could be a good book to get someone started into contemporary reads if you normally read fantasy. Havoc would also be a good choice to get someone out of a reading slump as it is not too heavy or full when you are struggling to find something that sticks. In conclusion, Havoc is a good novel with a decent plot line that is not a heavy read and is really a book for anyone over the age of about 10, as it is not gory or written for mature readers.
Jessica Skudder is 14 years old, from Christchurch.