An oddly exciting mix, Sasha Maclean
15 April, 2021
‘A bus full of high school students crashes in remote bush. Only a few of the teenagers survive. Their phones don’t work, there’s no food and they’ve only got their wits to keep them alive.
If you’ve ever read a Bear Grylls adventure story, or enjoyed a creepy sci-fi movie, then Flight of the Fantail is for you. If you love hypnotism, New Zealand bush adventures, a sinister company doing everything in their power to stop their secrets being uncovered, or an oddly exciting mix of all three, you’re in for a treat.
It’s always exciting to see a sci-fi adventure thriller set in New Zealand and written by a New Zealander. Steph Matuku has done a fantastic job of creating this perfectly balanced novel.
‘And if that wasn’t enough, there are the nosebleeds, pounding headaches and erratic behaviour to deal with – and no rescue team in sight. To make it out, they have to find out what’s really going on.
Imagine going away to school camp on a rickety old bus, driving up a slippery mountain slope, on a narrow road, in the middle of winter. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?
Now imagine, this recipe for disaster unfolds, and the bus crashes, into remote bush, where there is no one for miles and miles and miles. Only several people survive, they are stranded without a hope. It couldn’t possibly get worse than this, you would think, but no.
There’s something fishy going on in ‘Zone 12’.
One part of the book I find especially well done is the characters. They’re not flat or stereotypical. All the characters have more than one dimension, with both their positive traits and flaws shown.
My favourite character in this novel is Devin. Before the bus crash, she is the ‘underdog’, the picked-on one who nobody really likes or pays attention to. But in the aftermath and the events that follow, she steps up and becomes the reason the survivors stay alive.
My least favourite character is Chantelle. Her character development is almost the opposite to Devin’s; she is ‘popular’ before the crash, (by ‘popular’ I mean someone who thinks they are superior to everyone else and has very few brain cells), and her nasty and spiteful behaviour doesn’t change at all. Just let me say, she deserves her ending.
I also like how the selection of very different characters, people who in their ‘old lives’ would never have tolerated each other, but in their unusual circumstances, bond together. They open up to each other, telling each other their dreams, thoughts and banding together to stay alive.
Something I find interesting about this story, and something that isn’t very common in YA fiction, is the fact that there is no ‘main’ character. Sure, there are characters who certainly appear more than others, but none take the centre stage. The narrative switches around about four different groups, focusing a chapter or two on each at a time.
I would recommend this book for anyone aged 11/12 up, perhaps even adults looking for a lighter read.
I promise you, if you read this, you won’t regret it!
- Sasha Maclean lives in New Plymouth.