Books & Literature

Book Review: Indigo Owl, by Charlie Archibald

YA SCI-FI: After Earth was destroyed by climate change and overpopulation, private corporations colonised new planets but at what cost?

A fabulous dystopian story perfect for the young adult reader.

Charlie Archbold is an Australian teacher and author. Her debut young adult novel, Mallee Boys, was an Honour Book for Older Readers in the Children’s Book Council Awards. She lives in Adelaide with her family. Her new novel, Indigo Owl, is set in our future on the planet Galbraith.

Earth has been destroyed by climate change and over population so private corporations have colonised new planets. The citizens of Galbraith have become used to following orders. Teenagers are sent to Institutes to become one of four members of society: Cardinals become the elite executives, usually chosen because of family connections, Solitaires have the ability to read moods and feelings (synaesthesia), Willows and Malachites are those who do the grunt work. Those who don’t follow the rules are given infringement notices. If you receive ten, you are sent to the barren Solar Fields for a tour of duty. Woman are unable to have children unless the government first gives permission and then only one. It is a grim life for many.

Indigo Owl is told through the eyes of three people: Dylan, whose father is one of the top executives and is greatly disappointed that his son wants to be a Solitaire; Scarlet, who is also going to become a Solitaire and has lived with her scientist dad since her mother disappeared, presumed dead; and Rumi, who is destined to be a Cardinal, although not connected to the elite, but brilliant with technology.

Each of them has a story to tell. They are stories of loss and they have within them the determination to make their world a better place for all. Scarlet wants to find out what happened to her geneticist mother, Dylan has lost an uncle and has a father who despises him, and Rumi, also suffering from the loss of someone, has discovered information about how the planet is run. Together they must fight for their lives and the future of Galbraith.

Indigo Owl is about the control of governments, citizens losing their ability to think for themselves, power, murder, family, loss and love. It keeps the reader on the edge of their seat from start to finish. It is believable and terrifying. The thought of losing the freedom we experience in our country becomes all too real and the reader wills Scarlet, Dylan and Rumi to succeed.

Indigo Owl is well written. The planet of Galbraith comes alive and we can feel the freezing cold of the planet and imagine living somewhere that has little sun and is totally barren. It may give the reader the impetus to do more to protect the planet we now live on.

For those who love a story with a touch of truth, like great characters with heart, and just enjoy a good yarn with a satisfying ending, this is a book to pick up.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Wakefield Press
Released: September 2020
RRP: $24.95


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