Published by Allen & Unwin on March 1st 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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In Bo Mitchell's country town, a 'White Night' light-show event has the potential to raise vital funds to save the skate park. And out of town, a girl from a secretive off-the-grid community called Garden of Eden has the potential to change the way Bo sees the world. But are there too many secrets in Eden?
As Bo is drawn away from his friends and towards Rory, he gradually comes to believe that Eden may not be utopia after all, and that their group leader's goal to go off the grid may be more permanent - and more dangerous - than anyone could have predicted.
A wonderfully compelling novel from the acclaimed author of the Every series.
'Gutsy characters, a cracking plot, and the perfect amount of swoon - everything Ellie Marney does best.' Vikki Wakefield
Gently, calmly and quietly, White Night lures you in with a false sense of security and before you know it, you’re hooked. From the mystery surrounding the idyllic community of Eden, to Bo’s parents and their secrets, there’s a lot to unpack while reading this intriguing mystery about family and cults.
Close family dynamics
The novel takes its time setting the scene, of the country town of Lamistead and its tight knit small town community. Bo is a nice, sporty guy who likes chilling with his co-ed friendship group and has a great relationship with both of his parents. I liked how his family played a huge part in his life as a teen – so many books don’t bother to explore the impact of adults on teenagers, instead cutting them out of the story, but Bo’s life revolved around his family and his friends. From the chores that he has to do, to how his mum and dad’s relationship affects him, to wanting to help out with his family and looking after his younger brother, I really enjoyed the family dynamics here. But it didn’t feel like that that perfect YA family either – there were a lot of secrets, lies, strict rules and curfews, and the family is put under strain throughout the book.
I sit at the table for a moment, wondering what the hell this strange disease is that’s afflicting our family right now. A disease characterised by silence, secrets and a complete absence of understanding.
The new girl who nobody knows
When Bo meets the New Girl Rory, who he’s never heard of, that’s when things go out the window with his family especially when all he does is want to spend time with her. I could see the appeal when it came to Rory, especially being from a small town where everyone knows each other’s business. Her radical philosophy when it comes to environmentalism and minimising the carbon footprint was fascinating, reflecting the attitudes of the extremist community she lives in. But the most fascinating thing about her, is her attitude – she doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, she cares about her education having worked hard to get it, and she’s not afraid to be herself. Even though she’s bullied and teased for being different, she still doesn’t shy away from it and I found that empowering.
Being a teenage boy, Bo doesn’t have his life sorted out either, so when someone enters his life who seems so sure and confident in who she is, he’s drawn to it. I loved the influence of his friends and his teachers on him as well – they provided a support network for him to figure out what he wants in life. There were many great platonic friendships that ebbed and flowed accordingly to what they were going through. The book also displayed some thought-provoking lessons in class as well, and showed that even teachers aren’t without flaws. Every character just felt so real.
A convincing cult i actually wanted to live in
What about the Garden of Eden? Having drawn from her own experiences living in a similar community, Ellie Marney makes it sound so convincing. From Bo’s first experience with them and really coming to appreciate how they all pitch in for the sake of each other, I actually could see why it was so convincing. From it’s rural huts, to the organic foods and the bonfires and smiling faces, gosh this community seemed so welcoming. Not only could I see Bo getting drawn in to their philosophy and their ways of living, but I could even see myself wanting to live there as well! That’s a testament to how convincing this off-the-grid rural community was and I really wanted to see the mystery of it unfolding.
Before, I used to dream about what the larger world would be like…It seemed kind of magical.
Family, friends, community engagement and environmentalism – White Night explores many important themes in a teenager’s life. I adored the family dynamics, strong friendships but also the flawed relationships that made everything feel more real. The off-the-grid community of Eden was definitely fascinating and I loved watching the mystery unravel – both with the community and with Bo’s family. This is a #LoveOzYA book that I absolutely recommend for its compelling mysteries, excellent family dynamics and fantastic male point of view.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Thanks to Allen & Unwin for sending me a review copy of this book!
White Night is available from Australian bookstores and also on The Book Depository for RRP$19.99.
Giveaway – Win a copy of White Night
Ellie Marney will be speaking at the Love YA event for Uplit/Brisbane Writer’s Festival! To celebrate this event, I will be giving away a paperback copy to a lucky Australian subscriber.
To enter, fill in the details below (verified entries only – no cheating!). The giveaway ends 28 April 2018 and the winner will be notified by email.