Anh Do (text) and Jeremy Ley (illustrator), Into the Wild (Wolf Girl #1), Allen & Unwin, July 2019, 224 pp., RRP $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760525095
Gwen is shaken awake to find her family are quickly packing and fleeing their home. There is danger and the whole town is evacuating. They are stuck in a gridlock of cars heading out of the city, when suddenly the world seems to be exploding around them. Gwen’s parents urge her to run and not to stop or wait for them. When she finally stops, Gwen realises her family is not behind her and that she is lost in the wilderness.
Gwen remembers her father’s advice to follow her instincts. She knows she must find water and then look for rescue. But rescue doesn’t come, and Gwen needs all her courage and determination to survive the days, weeks, months, years ahead. She bonds with some stray animals and together they form an unlikely pack and learn to hunt together. Eventually Gwen decides to trek across the mountain. Will she find friends on the other side or is she walking into danger?
This fast-paced post-apocalyptic adventure explores themes of resilience and courage. There are dangerous situations and heartwarming moments. The short chapters, supportive illustrations and varied font make it an easy read for middle to upper primary. The story ends on a cliffhanger in preparation for Book 2.
Fans of Anh Do will enjoy this and younger readers are more likely to suspend disbelief, however more discerning readers may find aspects of the plot improbable and too convenient, and unless you are prepared to be invested in reading the next book in the series, there is an unsatisfactory ending. Although an easy read, I would not recommend it to lower primary due to the post-apocalyptic theme.
Reviewed by Sharon Seymour