'Blown Away', like its prequel, 'Sharp North', is a complex and subtle thriller set in the future, inviting comparison with other 'dystopian' novels for young adults such as Julie Bertagna's 'Exodus' and 'Zenith' or Gemma Malley's 'The Declaration'. However, while there are certainly dystopian elements in the world it creates - Cave is, for example, chillingly pessimistic (or realistic, depending on one's point of view) about climate change - the book's acute observation of human nature makes it more complex and subtle than 'dystopian' would imply. It is beautifully written, simultaneously poignant and funny, with moments of wit, bleak satire, and tragedy. Although the plot is probably somewhat dependent on the previous book - having read both books in order I found it hard to judge - it's rare for a second book to have so much structural and narrative freshness. Cave introduces new plotlines and characters, creating a book which has its own integrity, rather than having the this-is-an-installment-in-a-series quality that cripples so many contemporary children's books. Because of this, 'Blown Away' is deeper, more thoughtful and more ultimately moving than 'Sharp North' - again, a great achievement for a second book. It is well and vividly imagined, from the near-future diary entries - told in a wonderful teenage voice which doesn't succumb to the danger of assuming teenagers are necessarily stupid or inarticulate - to the distant-future adventures of the charismatic heroine. This is thoughtful, compelling stuff which is highly intelligent without sacrificing narrative tension or emotional depth. Definitely recommended.
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