Against all odds, protagonist Violet Black is recovering from the M-fever that is raging across many countries of the world. A virus that is painful and most likely lethal. Thanks to her somewhat unruly scientist father she has survived... but she is different. The small few that have survived the virus (also referred to as VORTEX) have been left with powers of telepathy (think-talk) and there are those in society who have ideas of how this skill can be exploited. Violet must work with another survivor, Ethan, to try and establish what is going on and what plans are in place for the next major development from the ‘Foundation’.
In the first of a trilogy, author Eileen Merriman produces fast paced action matched with authentic and exciting dialogue (both through speech and think-speech) that pushes a pretty complex narrative along. The placement of the action in New Zealand, Australia and Germany provides a nice change from the commonplace locations of the science fiction YA genre. Plus with Merriman’s medical background (she is a Consultant Haematologist at North Shore Hospital) the descriptions of the scientific elements are thorough but simple enough for readers to follow without difficulty.
Told from the perspectives of Violet and Ethan, the novel explores New Zealand and Australian ideas and locations. There is a sense of familiarity and pride that is created when the writer discusses Auckland, Wellington and even spots just out from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.
While there are some examples of coarse language, it is fitting with the context of two late teens coming to terms with new found experiences, and of a world which has been thrown into disarray by the advent of this M-fever. A wonderfully rich novel which will leave the reader anticipating the next move of Violet in the second book of the trilogy.
Title: Violet Black
Author: Eileen Merriman
Publication: May 2021
Reviewer: Chris Reed, Head of Junior English, Macleans College, Auckland
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Opening Sentence: The world is white and bright and terrifying.