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Reviewed by Mattie Lang
Opening sentence
“I was falling through darkness.”
When fifteen-year-old Quinn is brought along on a year-long scientific expedition to Campbell Island, she resigns herself to a year of boredom. However, when things take a dark turn only a few weeks in, life becomes anything but boring.

Things begin to go wrong on Campbell Island and the entire expedition leaves in the first few chapters. An accident occurs on the trip back, which was foreshadowed in the prologue. Quinn and Jeroen, the intriguing son of another researcher, wash ashore on a rural North Island beach. They set off to find help, accompanied by a child and his dog who they met on the way, but quickly discover that the world now is different from anything they knew before. Their journey turns from looking for help to the bigger search for answers…

Despite a slow start, The World I Found by Latika Vasil reaches an exciting tempo, with a building sense of foreboding that carries you through most of the book. It starts with a chilling prologue that sets the scene for what is to come. While Latika expertly builds tension throughout the book, she fails to keep up the momentum, which leads to a disappointing, anti-climactic end.

The well-built characters had me wondering what I would do at every step while subtly asking the deeper questions - What happens when society falls apart? What would I become if society fell apart?

I particularly enjoyed the post-apocalyptic world that Vasil crafted. It gave me the feeling that every detail had been carefully thought out. It was filled with familiar references to uniquely kiwi things as well as a bleak description of what she envisioned a world after society’s collapse would look like. While there were some dark points, overall this story is a message of hope and I think that the last paragraph of the book perfectly captures that: ‘The sun felt warm on my skin, and I closed my eyes. For a moment everything terrible that had happened melted away and I imagined an ordinary day in an ordinary world in which three teenagers (and a dog) were just hanging out on the beach, having a good time.’

Latika also did a good job forming realistic relationships between characters and I was pleasantly surprised when it did not end with the cliché romantic ending I had been expecting. She builds a perfectly sinister villain without making them too predictable, but they then leave before we really get to know them which robs the reader of the final showdown that they were looking forward to.

The chapters were disconcertingly short, many only two or three pages long, breaking my engagement with the story as I was pulled out for a chapter change every minute or so. The writing, however, was easy to read, narrated by Quinn in the form of a diary which almost made up for the confusing chapters.

I felt like there was too much time spent setting up the Campbell Island expedition followed by an abrupt exit that seemed like it had been artificially manufactured solely for the purpose of delivering the main characters to the North Island where the story really begins.

All considered, I would recommend The World I Found by Latika Vasil to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced adventure set in a familiar NZ setting. Setting aside the short chapter lengths and weak ending, it was a fun read that left me wishing for more.

- Mattie is 15 and lives in Nelson.
Publisher: Black Giraffe Press
ISBN: 9780473680268
Format: Paperback
Publication: 2023
Ages: 14+