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Scavengers
Darren Simpson

9781474956024

Synopsis:
Landfill has lived his whole life as a scavenger, running with wooflers, swimming with turtles and feasting on fresh gull. Old Babagoo has always looked after him, on one condition - follow his rules. NEVER COME LOOKING OUTSIDE. NEVER RISE ABOVE THE WALL. But despite the dangers, Landfill longs to see Outside. And some rules are made to be broken.


Your reviews

Megan Grace Nicholson, 11
The book is about a boy called Landfill who's lived his whole life as a scavenger. He was found as a baby and raised by an old man, Babagoo. The story follows Landfill as he makes a friend with an 'outsider'. Landfill is very unsure of this friendship as he has never experienced anything like it.

Wow! What a massive emotional rollercoaster ride of a book. I think I pretty much cried for the last 2 chapters of the book. I think the last 4 chapters changed everything for me. There are so many twists and turns, and each one is brilliant. This is ridiculously well written book and I loved reading every minute of it.

I found myself frustrated, sad, angry, happy and sometimes all within a short space of time. I think the character I most relate to is Dawn because she constantly wants to help Landfill, she's very caring and adventurous.

It completely peaked my curiosity and I couldn't put it down. I'd reread it in a heart beat but I just need a minute to process everything before I dive back in!

That ending, was beautiful and sad. The blurb does not do this book justice.
Sharon Bolton, 12
Scavengers tells the story of a boy called Landfill who lives with Old Babagoo in Hinterland, surrounded by a big wall that separates it from Outside. Landfill's life is regulated by many rules, which are imposed upon him by Babagoo. The relationship between the two characters is a maelstrom of comfortable friendliness, parent/child and bully/bullied. Throughout the novel evocative use of language helps to set scenes without giving too much away, leading the reader to form their own opinions and discover what is going on.

Landfill's days are filled with tasks and interactions with the many animals in Hinterland, all of whom have literary names. The names are explained in an appendix at the end of the book. These animals are his playmates since he leads such a solitary existence. At times there are gritty descriptions of the gulls that form the basis for meals in Hinterland and the whole novel has echoes of Lord of the Flies.

Babagoo and Landfill communicate using made up and unusual language, giving the story a Dahlesque feel. The most important rule is to NEVER go beyond the wall and when Landfill does, it opens up a whole wealth of questions and situations that he had never dreamt of.

When Dawn, an 'Outsider', comes into Hinterland, Landfill starts to develop an awareness that not all he has been told by Babagoo about the Outsiders may be correct. His innate sense that he is missing out on something becomes more profound and he starts to question Babagoo's ideas and decisions.

At times a truly challenging read but one where the use of language is such that you can see and breathe the atmosphere within Hinterland; this is a superbly written novel. I especially liked the addition of the discussion questions.

322 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Sharon Bolton, School Librarian
Sue Wilsher, 12
Landfill has lived his whole life behind the wall, scavenging to survive and look after the animals which fill his world. Looked after by old Babagoo, he has been conditioned to follow the rules designed to keep Landfill safe from the evils of the Outside. But Landfill is curious - and that means breaking the rules.

This is a powerful novel which is not always a comfortable read. The relationship between Babagoo and Landfill is extremely complex. Babagoo obviously adores his young companion, seeing him as the only pure, innocent thing left in the world, yet he is controlling, manipulative and at times, bullying. Landfill's life is governed by strict rules and has known nothing else as Babagoo is the only human he has ever known. As he grows, however, he notices things and starts to question Babagoo's authority.

It is hard to comment on too much that happens in this story without spoiling the pleasure of discovery for those who have not read it yet. It is a story which challenges our views about 'civilisation', safety, survival and relationships. It is raw in places, yet powerfully written and compelling.

336 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher
Jo Clarke, 9
I devoured this book in one delicious sitting. It was attention grabbing, gripping and so full of gutsy action (sometimes quite literally!) that I just had to know what was going to happen at the end of each tense episode.

The story is based around the character of Landfill and at first it is a little difficult to deduce who (or even what) he is. And that's when you're hooked! Who is this character who leaps and runs and rolls in a haphazard environment of pipes and tubes and carpet rolls? Why is he there? What is he doing?

As the story unfolds it becomes clearer that Landfill is a boy who is living in an environment outside of the 'real' world. He is looked after by Babagoo, a scavenger, a father figure, a man who survives within the walls of 'the Hinterland' and who is desperate to keep Landfill away from the Outside. Babagoo and Landfill have a vocabulary unique to themselves; amnals (animals) vegbles (vegetables), suggesting a simplistic naivety, and yet their animals are named after literary giants - Woolf, Orwell, Joyce, Kafka. It is quirks like these that intrigue and so, as when faced with a knotted ball of wool, the reader becomes desperate to unravel the twists and to make sense of it all.

Babagoo has a set of rules that Landfill must abide by and when these rules start to be bent, tension between the two characters begins to develop. Landfill becomes more curious about the stories that he has been told and questions all that he has believed to be true. When Landfill dares to venture beyond the walls of the Hinterland, his eyes are opened, and his loyalties are questioned. Without giving too much away, Landfill discovers that Babagoo has not always been entirely honest with him and this brings Landfill dangerously close to the world that is 'The Outside'.

The central characters are ones that make the reader really care and the story is so well-told that the tale becomes vivid and addictive. Darren Simpson has a way of making an alien environment one that the reader can picture in all of its complexities. His attention to detail, the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the characters - Landfill's habit of licking his wrist and rubbing it through his hair for example - make this a story that is brightly coloured and bold in the reader's imagination.

There were moments when I found myself holding my breath and almost closing my eyes for fear of what might happen next. There were a few scenes which were quite graphic in their nature; necessarily so to reflect the harsh brutality of a scavenger lifestyle and some younger, more sensitive readers might be disturbed by these.

I can only hope that a sequel is planned as I have to know what happens next. As soon as it is published, I'll be first in the queue to quench my appetite for more of Landfill's adventures. A truly great read which I highly recommend.

322 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Jo Clarke, teacher


 
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