Deborha Savage’s Kotuku is an interesting read. There is some mystery and Savage is very clever in the way she gradually reveals how Wim’s best friend Jilly actually died. Wim is extremely well drawn also. She is a true young adult with all the uncertainties that go with that age and a fair amount of self-absorption. A believable real person is revealed from time to time through the trappings of adolescence.
Yet at times, although the novel is well-written, the narrative can be a little too introspective for even an adult reader. It may irritate a young adult who needs fast pace and high drama. There is risk taking – Wim is very brave in the way she handles her demented great aunt – but it does not go quite far enough. In addition Savage is a little too insistent on the reality of a fantasy thread. It would be much wiser to leave the decisions about this to the imagination of the reader.
This book doesn’t quite have the impact of some other similar more literary Young Adult novels. However, it is very readable and it’s conclusion is reasonably satisfying. The question of course is, how does she attain this style and what is preventing her from perfecting it?