An exciting story and mini guide to survival, Mervin Athan
11 May, 2021
Cuz is a suspenseful, getting-to-know-each-other story, with a fierce plot. It’s the kind of book that makes the reader want to keep turning the page to find out more about the fascinating tale. Cuz also includes a lot of Māori words and culture, helping readers learn more about New Zealand.
Cuz is a great book for those who like survival, Māori culture and suspense, revealing cool survival tricks and plants that can be eaten in the wild. It’s also really well written and all the small details are easy to understand.
Cuz is the story of a teenage boy named River. When he meets his cousin Huia, realises how much he doesn’t know about tikanga Māori, or in other words – Māori knowledge. But then disaster strikes, and River and Huia are left in a confusing, chilly mess. They will both need each other’s help if they want to survive.
As they go through rough times, River starts to learn more about tikanga Māori from Huia, as she guides them across mountains and rivers, dodging the deadly bite of the cold. They encounter many dangers such as freezing wind, high, steep pathways and even hunger. Food that they catch never even makes up for their hunger, and they are weak and starving. Can they make it back home, or do they stop dead in their tracks?
This book contains many cool Māori words such as pīkau- (backpack), koura- (a small freshwater crayfish), and many more. But what I think would make this book a more amazing read is to maybe add the meanings of these words at the bottom of the page, so that the reader doesn’t have to keep turning the book over and over to the glossary. But other than that, this book is a good read.
The way van der Laarse describes landscapes really sticks an image in the reader’s mind, allowing the picture to fully form and stay there until the next scene appears around the corner. The way she writes about her characters’ feelings and actions really help the reader feel attached to the characters in this story, making it more interesting and heart-warming. I felt like I was part of the story, experiencing each moment with the characters.
As you read through the story, you realise there is a lot going on, such as suspense, bush-craft, non-fiction and action.
At the end of the book, the author has included a glossary of Māori words, information about plants that can be eaten in the wild, and even some survival tricks and skills, making it a sort of mini-guide to survival in the wild, while also being a good story to read.
A great story like this can make readers want to read more books, taking them off from technology and into the world of an author’s imagination.
– Mervin Athan is 12 and lives in Christchurch