Where the World Turns Wild by Nicola Penfold presents a darkly imaginative spin on the current environmental crisis. This is Juniper and Bear’s story, siblings who live in a sterile concrete city, while conversely, Mother Nature flourishes in abundance outside. Eco-activists, in a radical bid to save the planet, have created a virulent tick-borne disease that is fatal to almost all humans. Juniper and Bear however, are totally immune, a fact of great interest to ruthless government scientists. We join the siblings on an exciting eco-adventure as they are compelled to flee into the great Wild.
‘Freak’ and ‘feral’ are insults regularly flung at Juniper and Bear. Unlike the city children who know nothing of life outside their urban cage, they were born in a lush faraway valley, their early years spent running free.
Placed with their dear grandmother in the city for safekeeping, the siblings’ hopes of being reunited with their parents are dwindling. Their life feels grey when they long for it to be green but in a world so fearful of the tick disease, nothing of nature is allowed within the city walls.
Already earmarked as potential troublemakers, when a city phlebotomist shows up, Juniper realises that the authorities are literally coming for their blood.
‘So (they) get our immunity. So they can go out into the Wild. Strip it all over again.’
The need for escape combined with the ache for their parents propels Juniper and Bear out into the Wild, where they encounter both beauty and brutality. Peril and adventure awaits in a landscape which is not as paradisal as it first seems.
Where the World Turns Wild is the cream of the crop of current eco-fiction releases. Clever and compelling, it prompts young readers to consider whether the act of creating the tick-disease was treason, terrorism, or salvation.
Where the World Turns Wild by Nicola Penfold is published by Stripes Publishing, 352 pages.