“Ember had told me once that she’d known a girl who wanted to die, until someone had spoken six words to her that made her decide to live instead. I’d asked what the magic words were, and she said it didnt matter, the point was that no one ever knows when something they say will cause a profound change in somebody else.”
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is a YA dystopian novel set in a future version of Australia. The earth and environment that we know now, was destroyed by humans and a new society of people live on the only surviving part of land.
Our MC Ashala, pronounced A-shay-la (I know, I said it wrong the whole way through the book until the pronunciation was explained near the end), is the leader of a tribe of rebels with special abilities who do not want to be captured and detained by the government who believe the ‘illegals’ with powers are dangerous and need to be held captive away from ‘normal society’. As we come into the story the oppressive government leader is looking for Ashala to pressure her into giving him secrets of The Tribe.
I really enjoyed this book, and can’t wait to read the next in the series. I loved Ashala’s character and her interactions with the rest of The Tribe. She was believable and engaging and her character mixed with the fast paced plot kept me reading til the end.
The first third of the book is a little confusing at first, but I feel this is done purposefully to draw you into the intriguing story – but what I discovered was that the weirder the book got the more it opened up and began to make sense beautifully. This was in part because during the second third of the book we are finding out missing details of narrative by exploring Ashala’s memories which are being shown to us. The story did not lack twists and turns and either being read as a standalone or as the set up to a series it is a well rounded intelligent book.
Ambelin Kwaymullina writes YA very well, the narrative and tone of the book are in perfect keeping with the genre but present excellent diverse qualities. I picked this book up purposefully for its diverse and #ownvoices qualities – Kwaymullina is Indigenous herself and as well as being a novelist and illustrator she is a professor of law focusing on Indigenous people and the law. Her Indigenous culture and heritage comes through strongly in the book with themes that look at the treatment of Indigenous people in society and could be read as the treatment of refugees in Australia – and largely the world, today. The book is however not just informative, it is emotionally charged drawing you deep into the parallel between our own society and that of Ashala’s in the book.
The only negative I had while reading was that the smaller story thread of a romance in the book seemed pretty out of place to me until the end of the book, it felt like an afterthought or confusion in manuscripts when reading to be honest and at some points made my reading experience a little disjointed. At the end it was wrapped up fairly reasonably but to me this book would not lack anything if the romance was not there at all.
I very much recommend The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf for both a dip into the diverse and #ownvoices bookverse or simply if you are wanting the comfortable feel of a classic YA dystopian adventure.