This novel starts really well with 16 year old Ashala being led to a torture chamber by the boy who betrayed her. She is the leader of a band of Illegals who hide in the forest to escape being collared by a society that distrusts humans with abilities.
That's pretty much all I can say without spoilers. The story is layered with twists and turns and there are lots of flashbacks and regained memories to keep you guessing. I was intrigued all the way through and there is plenty of tension.
I probably would have enjoyed more exploration of the Illegals powers and how they came to be. And the bad guys were a little too one dimensional although that's probably ok for the younger YA audience this book was written for. The memories Ashala regains do tend to drag in the middle but in general things move along at a good pace. There is a girl/boy romance but it's not graphic at all. It would be suitable for younger teens. Overall it's an exciting debut that feels like a fresh look at the genre.
I see that the author is indigenous Australian and that makes sense with the world she's built up which is inspired by but definitely not a copy of the Dreamtime mythology. The future dystopian world in which the story is set is a result of humanity's destruction of Earth which is also in keeping with modern Aboriginal beliefs.
This is a 2012 YA book from an Australian publisher. I had difficulty obtaining an ebook version, finally deciding to borrow it from the library which is a shame because I would have liked to reward the author financially for her work. It looks like it's being released on Ammy later this year as a hardcover. Still no word on the kindle version though. This is typical of Australian publishers whose sole purpose seems to be to make Aussie reader's lives difficult.