DAVIS, Tony The Big Dry A&R, 2013 220pp $15.99 pbk +e ISBN 9780732297633 SCIS 1615886
This is a post-apocalyptic novel set in a part of Australia devastated by catastrophic dust storms, called blasters, and searing heat. Why this has happened is never adequately explained and for some reason the resulting survivors have not been evacuated to other unaffected places (which are alluded to in a notice about the hospital being relocated).
Twelve-year-old George and his younger brother Beeper are waiting for their father to return home. He went out to get supplies and has not come back. At first, George tries to come up with all sorts of reasons as to why he may be delayed but soon they are trying to fend for themselves. A girl called Emily breaks into the house and helps herself to some food and a dress that used to belong to the boys’ missing mother. She is streetwise and smart-mouthed and knows how to look after herself. Can they trust her or not?
As they cope with Welfare officers coming to take them into custody and ‘Wanderers’ breaking in to take all their supplies, Emily comes to their rescue several times, although it is George who saves her life when she is in the greatest danger. At the end of the book after another blaster almost kills them, there is an ambiguous ending which many will probably interpret optimistically. The novel is well-written and the scenes dramatically described. If you can suspend belief and dispense with logical questions, the book is engrossing but harrowing. LB