- Author: Victor Kelleher
- Goodreads: 3.40/5
- Parkville Station: 8.5/10
I’ve got to admit, I read Taronga a long time ago. But it has stuck with me. Perhaps it’s because it came out before post-apocalyptic-dystopian-teen-novel became the thing de jour, but while aimed at quite young readers, the book seems to have had some deeper meaning, or at least deeper feeling. It’s the slightly simpler Life of Pi for the 80s (don’t judge, I read it in the 00s – I’m not that old).
Plucky protagonist Ben can speak to animals with his mind, and in a post-apocalyptic Australia, of course gets drawn to Taronga Zoo. Featuring teenage gangs, murderous tigers and kids just trying to stay alive when when everything’s against them and there aren’t any adults to help, this is a rather harrowing look at how children and animals treat each other in the state of nature. Or at least it was pretty harrowing when I was 11.
I’m not sure how this would read now, after post-apocalyptic novels have become enough of a thing that they’ve become slick and easily digestible, but I have fond memories, and would highly recommend giving it a read – it won’t take you very long.