Intense and exhilarating, Meilani Payne
Imagine you have no wifi, no technology, and rely entirely and solely on the forest, for your source of food, water and even how you bathe. This was the life of Egan Tucker: bathing in waterfalls, living in the bush and hunting for food, this was his reality. Nevertheless, he is a normal human being. Egan lives with his mother, who brought him to the forest when he was but a baby. Egan, growing up, was very determined and wanted nothing but to protect his mother. His mother had told him about the outside world and so he had begun to live in fear of it. But little did he know, he would soon have to adapt and confront it. He had lived in a stone hut in the Coromandel forest for his entire life. He dreamed of being a writer. But opportunities were close to none, as he could only leave the forest at the age of 18. He even wished that someday he would be able to drive a car, drink coca-cola, watch television and swim in the ocean: things we typically take for granted, showing me how I should not take the things I have for granted. But his whole lifestyle changes when his mother goes missing. He enters the outside world, and it is nothing like he had expected.
Shooting Stars is first set in the Coromandel but, as Egan adventures into the real world, he comes across the city of Auckland, where he stays for the remainder of the book. This book is a collection of Egan’s diary entries arranged by his friend, J T Hunter, who he meets along the way. The book takes a while to get going and to get into some action. Nevertheless, it starts to pick up and becomes exhilarating and simply humorous. We get to really know Egan Tucker, with every diary entry. We start to fall in love with his character and how he portrays the world. We get to witness and be a part of all his adventures and mistakes, we get to relive his memories, and experience with him the first time he “falls in love.” But, what’s amazing about this novel is that you get to connect with Egan on a more personal level, as we are reading from his point of view, as if we were Egan himself.
The first thing you notice when you pick the book up is its cover. It captivated me from the first second and was both well put together and effective. What I liked about this book was how it reflects New Zealand culture, even the colloquial language we Kiwis use. Though it contained quite negative aspects around half way: this novel comments on New Zealand society, in both positive and negative ways. As it is a relatively new novel, it covers current-day problems and shows the effects on people from all different aspects of life. It can be intense at times and, later on, subtly references abuse (sexual and physical), drugs and coarse language. Over time, it gets more brutal and intense, with brutal violence, hidden truths of sexual abuse and less subtle coarse language. This is why I recommend it for readers 16 and over. Scholastic actually does state on their website that it’s for older audiences; older teens and young adults. For there are some things that younger readers won’t understand, may make them feel uncomfortable, or could affect them in a negative way and disturb them. Nevertheless, for a young adult, this book is exhilarating.
I personally think the author wrote this to raise awareness of problems in New Zealand in a captivating way and to show readers that there is more to life and that we should live our life to the fullest and to spread love and live happily despite our background, ethnicity and history. I have learnt many new lessons through Egan’s story, and have learnt that it is important to look after the people around you, but to also look after yourself. This book is full of so many lessons and morals and addresses issues in our country and how we need to stand up for others and for our values.
Overall, it’s a pretty good book. For a young teenager towards the end, it got a little too intense for my liking, but I think anyone over 15 or 16 would enjoy it.
Meilani Payne is 14 years old from Titahi Bay, Wellington, and is year 10 at Tawa College.