Sharing the joy of children’s books



This week the newest member of the Kids Book Crew, Lisa Redmond, checks out Oasis, by young Irish author Eilís Barrett, who you might remembered we interviewed in May. Let’s see what Lisa made of this exciting debut. 

OasisOasis is an exciting book for many reasons, firstly it is the debut of a seriously talented young Irish author; secondly it is the first title from the new YA list from Gill Books; and thirdly it is a fast paced thriller set in a near future dystopia perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.

Quincy has spent most of her life in the Outer Sector, rejected by her parents at the age of seven because she carried the gene for a deadly virus that has ravaged the world’s population.

The dormant are housed in a brutal prison like environment, where Quincy has learned the art of survival by caring about nothing and no one, until she meets Aaron. He’s an officer so Quincy should hate him but he is kind to her and they secretly form a bond. When Quincy is chosen in the quarterly selection as a test subject, she is terrified; the subjects are human research tools in the Oasis’ search for a cure for the virus. Facing death Quincy chooses to run.

I found this book an enjoyable read for the most part, it’s pacy, it’s full of action and features a heroine who kicks ass, however I also had a few issues with the book. To begin with many of the characters are not adequately developed. Aaron is far too cardboard cut-out perfect to begin with, before seemingly transforming into an evil villain and many of the people that Quincy meets outside the walls feel a little too ‘samey’, in fact I found it very hard to care about them. This may be down to the first person narrative device which is, of course, very popular in young adult fiction, but can leave the reader with a very narrow perspective on the action. I also felt that many incidents in the book happened too fast with little or no explanation so that I felt confused and very often unsure about characters’ motivation.

While there is much to admire in this book – Eilís Barrett can certainly write – I also found that there were a number of all too familiar tropes that have appeared in dystopian fiction before; falling for two different boys, the death of young friend as a plot device to enrage the protagonist, the escape and return, the walled city, the faceless government, the huge screens all over the sector and the selection of citizens.

The author gives all of these ideas her own spin but I felt that while Eilís Barrett has hit many of the right notes with this book, the story lacked a sense of depth and heart. I am certain that the author has a bright future and a long writing career in front of her and I am excited to see what she does next, I just really feel that inside this book is an amazing story struggling to get out. However, I am sure that many young fans of The Hunger Games will really enjoy this debut.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Kids Book Crew verdict

3.5 stars

If you like this book you might also like: The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.

Will appeal to readers who enjoy: dystopian fiction, adventure, thrillers.

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About the author

Lisa Redmond

Lisa Redmond is the senior children's bookseller at Waterstones Drogheda and has been bookselling for 15 years. She regularly writes fiction, and reviews books for various publications and her own blog – Madwoman in the Attic. She is also kept busy by running a children's creative writing workshop and two books clubs. Lisa loves to read fantasy, historical fiction and anything involving witches, ghosts or time travel.

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