‘Into the Wilderness’ and a Giveaway!

UPDATE, 20 October 2010: The winner of the giveaway is…. Leanne from Cottage Tails. Congratulations!

The only reading I’ve done in the past six month’s has been young children’s literature with my girls and blogs (the latter mostly by the glow of my iPhone in the middle of the night whilst feeding Alice). When Sarah of Kiwi Mummy Blogs called out for people to review a couple of books from Random House I was quick as lightening to volunteer.

The book I was given the wonderful job of reviewing was ‘Into the Wilderness’ (the second book in the ‘Blood of the Lamb’ trilogy) by Mandy Hager, a Wellington writer. I also read the first book, ‘The Crossing’ – Winner of the 2010 NZ Post Children’s Book Award for Young Adult Fiction, and can’t wait for the final part of the trilogy.


If you’d like the opportunity to win a copy of ‘Into the Wilderness’ please leave a comment and I’ll put your name in the draw, which will take place on 20 October. Let me know if you tweet about it or share on Facebook and I’ll put in extra entries into the draw. International entries welcome too.

The book is marketed as ‘young adult’, but had me completely enthralled – hence the lack of blogging this past week.

Into the Wilderness: Blood of the Lamb Trilogy

    ‘Maryam, Ruth and Joseph have fled Onewere, reluctantly taking Joseph’s troublesome cousin, Lazarus, as well. They arrive at their destination, Marawa Island, filled with hope for rescue and reprieve. But at first glance the island appears to be solely populated by birds… Perhaps the Apostle’s dire warnings about the fall-out of the Tribulation were true after all?

    As Maryam and Joseph experience all the topsy-turvy misunderstandings and sexual tension first love entails, the antagonism between Maryam and Lazarus reaches explosive proportions. But when disaster brings the crushing realisation that time is now against them, all four must decide just who they can risk turning to for help…’

In this second book of the trilogy the four characters are developed with great detail, combined with a fast moving plot. It is not necessary to have read the first book to understand the complexities of each character, as Mandy Hager draws on their experiences from ‘The Crossing’ throughout the novel. I was immediately drawn into the story with vivid images in my mind. Hager writes in an evocative style that ignites all the senses of the reader.

I felt compassion for Ruth, who is reluctant to be on the voyage and struggles with leaving all that she’s ever known and been taught. Her faith means everything to her and she clings onto it with desperation. Maryam, meanwhile, struggles with her faith after the deception she experienced at the hands of the Apostles in the first book.

Maryam is also experiencing the sexual tension of first love with Joseph. And as Joseph’s body falls ill to the plague the group must decide how best to proceed. Meanwhile, Lazarus and Maryam clash in everything and their fiery relationship is rooted in the ills of their lives back in Onewere. Putting the past behind them is something they battle to do throughout the book.

The story proceeds from one challenge to the next, keeping the reader in a state of anticipation right up to the end. The main character, Maryam, is a strong, young woman bravely fighting for what’s right, with passionate determination. I was captivated throughout and couldn’t help drawing parallels to the injustice that many people in the world experience purely because of the colour of their skin or their religious beliefs. This book is so compelling as it tells the story of those fighting for their right to freedom. Where some will surrender to their fate, or give up all hope, Maryam is a true heroine that cannot live unless she is free and therefore she will fight till her last breath for justice.

I was reading this book over breakfast, in the car, whilst Alice had a nap, whilst the children played at the beach… I couldn’t put it down. My family know me well and when I have my head in a good book they get little sense out of me until the final page is read. This was one of those books that is a page turner to the end and left me feeling very thankful for my life and the freedom to live in a society that accepts everyone, no matter the colour of their skin or their religion. I can’t wait for the final book of the trilogy to find out what happens!