The Year of the Orphan by Daniel Findlay
PUBLISHED BY BANTAM PRESS
REVIEW BY KRIS WILLIAMS
The Year of the Orphan is set in post-apocalyptic outback Australia about 500 years into the future. It has been described as similar to Mad Max, and in a way it is – but without the cars and weaponry.
The main character is a young girl known only as Orphan. When she was very young, her family was killed and she managed to escape before being captured and sold as a slave. She had grown up in a settlement known as ‘the System’ working for the Old Man.
The System, put together with bit and pieces from the crumbling remains of the world, appears to be the only place left where people still survived. It's harsh and brutal, and people are dying from a disease they can’t control. Orphan survives by scavenging for the disappearing relics of the old world, most of which has been destroyed.
It is dangerous outside of the System walls. There's always the chance of running into predators, both animal and human, and having to fight for your life. There is also the wandering stranger called the Reckoner. What caused the destruction? Is there hope for the future? Will she survive and is humanity even worth saving?
It took me a little while to get into this book for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the language: the entire book is written in its own mixture of Australian slang and colloquialisms. In a way, it reflects the world that the characters exist in – society has crumbled and so has the language. As the Orphan is narrating the story it reflects her ‘pre-literate language style’. It takes time to get used to the writing style and may be hard to get past for those looking for an easy read.
My second struggle is the way the storyline jumps about. The timelines can sometimes be hard to follow and it is not until you get used to it that the story comes together.
If you like the dystopian genre, Year of the Orphan is worth the read. For YA readers looking to tackle this book, I would recommend they are strong readers for the above reasons.
Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.