The Bridge – by Jane Higgins
In a post-apocalyptic world, you’re born into one side of a war. Cityside, the mysterious ISIS is in charge. Their task is to keep the hostile Southsiders at bay and on their side of the bridges. Citysiders know how important it is to defeat the savages; the war has been raging for years and taken thousands of lives. Nik, Dash and all their friends grew up wanting to help – and if they’re deemed intelligent enough they might be picked to be a part of ISIS, where they can really make a difference. It seems like a given that Nik will be chosen; he’s got the best grades in his class. But when the recruiters come, he’s publicly shunned, and ISIS starts asking Nik hostile questions about his father, someone he’s never known.
Before Nik can figure out what’s going on and why ISIS is treating him like the enemy, the school is attacked, and one of his friends is taken by the Southsiders as a hostage. There’s only one way to save him – Nik will have to disguise himself as a savage and go across the Bridge. But once Nik becomes a part of that world, will everything still be as black and white as it’s always been? It’s easy to know who’s right when you’re only told one side of the story.
This novel doesn’t cover much new ground, but it doesn’t need to. The coming of age storyline is relatable even under such extreme circumstances, which is a credit to Higgins. Her characters are satisfyingly rough around the edges and intelligent enough to ask all the right questions, deal with problems effectively, and not accept everything they’re told on face value. The writing is lovely even in such a bleak setting, and some of the imagery is haunting.
I can definitely understand this novel being awarded the Text prize! Have you read it?