Harnessing the NZ spirit, Leon Greig
24 May, 2021
I have recently read a book called Cuz. This is a story about a 14-year-old boy called River and his cousin, Huia, who is also 14. River envies his cousin because she knows way more about te reo Māori than him. Then something happens that forces them to chuck their differences out the window and work together just to survive.
I enjoyed this book because it had some very interesting parts in it and also teaches the reader a few words in te reo Māori. I love how it has Māori translations at the back, along with survival tips and plants you can eat if you are lost in the New Zealand wilderness. It also has a Kiwi flair to it, which you would expect after reading the subtitle on the front cover: New Zealand’s version of Hatchet. I like how it had the same kind of idea as Hatchet but wasn’t exactly the same. For example; the main characters were aboard a boat, not a helicopter.
Liz van der Laarse brings classic Kiwi phrases and slang into the story really well. But there were a few not-so-good bits of the book. You know when you’re really tired, but you’re trying to stay awake? You know how you keep drifting off but then waking up again suddenly? That’s how I felt during some parts of the book. It was getting a wee bit boring, I started drifting off, and then BOOM! Something incredible comes out of nowhere and I’m back into it.
Also, I noticed something important in the book. Get ready, Cuz this is big! (see what I did there?) There are no macrons (the little lines above some letters in Māori) in the book! That’s classified as a spelling mistake! I mean, this is published work, so surely it should be spelt correctly?
Anyway, all the other formatting was good. I feel that the chapters were a good length: not too long and not too short. I love how you can relate to River and Huia, and easily imagine yourself in their shoes. I for one haven’t read many books by Kiwi authors, but reading Cuz was a great way to get me hooked. It definitely got me wanting to check out more stories written by New Zealanders.
I would recommend Cuz to kids aged 10 to 16 for many different reasons, including its good descriptive language and ability to help the reader relate to the story and the characters. I think Cuz is a very interesting story and deserves to be read and reviewed by many, even those outside Aotearoa.
In my opinion, the book would help introduce people around the world to our culture, and I think the author did a great job of harnessing the New Zealand spirit. I rate this book a solid 3 out of 5 stars for great descriptive language, the inclusion of te reo Māori, and interesting facts and tips. Overall, Cuz is an exciting and memorable book, and it is definitely worth reviewing and suggesting to others.
– Leon Greig is 12 years old and lives in Christchurch.