BANCKS, Tristan Two Wolves Random House, 2014 288pp $16.99 pbk ISBN 9780857982032 SCIS 1644044
Ben is moved out of his comfortable life playing computer games in his room into an adventure not of his own making. His parents, Mum, who appears as if she cares about her kids, and Dad, who doesn’t, urge the kids into the car for a spontaneous holiday. Never having experienced a holiday before, Ben isn’t sure what to expect but the events that unroll around him seem stranger than anything he could have imagined. When they finally make their destination, the old cabin full of cobwebs in the wilderness is far from a holiday house. Ben discovers the horde of money that his father has hidden and faces the awful truth that his parents have committed a terrible crime. When the police come, Ben and Olivia escape into the wilderness, surviving with what little skills they have gleaned from reading books. They make it to their grandmother’s but the real battle for Ben is not over. He has to show his father that he isn’t scared of him anymore and that, with courage, he is able to choose what sort of life he wants to lead.
The strengths of this book are the action-packed pace and the representation of imperfect characters. While the story-line may be pure adventure, Ben’s relationship with his parents and sister are more complex. There are hints of family violence. Ben’s existential philosophising doesn’t quite fit into the adventure framework and remains unexplored, but there is definite character growth as Ben responds to the chaos.
reviewed by Pam Harvey