An action-packed, emotional adventure, Kyra Johnson
October 12, 2021
Black Wolf is the second book in Eileen Merriman’s Black Spiral Trilogy. It is an action-packed and emotional story for both the readers and the characters themselves, Violet Black and Johnno Fletcher, who are plotting their escape from the torturous Spiral Foundation. The Foundation is a scientific research laboratory which seems legitimate and almost harmless. But Violet and Johnno know better.
After they have escaped, the two drive further and further away from the Foundation. Despite Johnno deeply hurting Violet’s feelings when they were on their mission to Berlin (in book one – Violet Black), the two become much closer. They spend their days driving and their nights in their dreams as animals such as wolves and birds. This, along with their ability to ‘think-speak’, is caused by the experiments done on them and proves to be helpful in many life-threatening situations. Eventually, the two plan to rescue their friends from the Foundation. It’s a dangerous job, though; will they be able to save their friends from the corrupted Foundation staff?
Throughout the book, I read about many problems which the global community experiences today. The book is set some year in the future, mentioning the impact of climate change – particularly in the deserts of Australia. I found it easy to read, which was a nice change because I had previously been reading a more difficult text. I like the way Merriman uses sentence fragments to display the character’s thoughts and emotions at that very moment. It made me just want to keep reading because of the tension! The format for when characters were ‘think-speaking’ is clear and easy to differentiate between the normal text as it is in italics. The think-speak is a clever way to show what the other characters in the scene were thinking.
The most relatable moment in the entire book is in the first chapter, where the characters are counting in different languages such as German, Mandarin, Russian, Māori and Japanese. At school I am currently studying Japanese, and almost everyone who lives in New Zealand knows a bit of Māori. This is what I liked about reading the book, because it directly relates to the country we live in.
In each chapter, the narrative alternates between the perspectives of Violet Black and Johnno Fletcher. They have much in common because of the Spiral Foundation, but through their perspectives it is easy to understand that they have different personalities. They can contrast each other greatly sometimes. For example, Johnno has little to no good memories of parents, whereas I imagine Violet would have many before she was conditioned by the Foundation to be scared of them.
I found three main lessons in this book. Firstly, it displays the importance of having friends and people whom you can trust and are loyal. Without these two qualities, the connection you share may not be entirely perfect, therefore creating an unstable and untrustworthy relationship. Secondly, the ambitions of the Spiral Foundation demonstrate how cruel we as humans can be to others when we have a goal. In that moment, nothing else can matter – not even the torture or death of a fellow human being. Thirdly, it is important to never give up. Whatever you put your mind to, you can achieve. For Violet and Johnno, this is getting away from the Spiral Foundation even when everything seems against them. I think their goal in the next book of the trilogy will be to bring down the Foundation for good so no one else will have to suffer what they do.
I very much enjoyed reading Black Wolf, mainly because it was easy to follow and had good suspension throughout. I give it 4.5/5 stars and would recommend this to anyone who is 14+ and likes to read about young adults escaping from things which aren’t always as it seems…
- Kyra Johnson lives in Greymouth.