NZ Children’s Book Reviews reviews “Sacrifice”

Written by Joanna Orwin
Reviewed by Katharine Derrick

Teaching notes available at

At last, after what feels like months of putting the NorthWrite 2012 festival ahead of reading, I have finished Joanna Orwin’s Sacrifice. I have to say this is the first book I’ve reviewed where I have had momentary struggles continuing on. The writing is superb, the characterisation excellent and the story is imaginative and descriptive so it took me a while to find the cause. And I have decided it’s because this is unashamedly a boy’s book. Anyone who has read and enjoyed The Travellers by Jack Lasenby will devour this book. The style and basic premise are similar although the stories are completely different. But girls, don’t be put off. The ending makes reading through the boys’ stuff well worth it!

Sacrifice follows the journey of Taka and a group of youths in the time after the Dark when the ash clouds covering the sky are beginning to recede. Food is scarce and new sources need to be found. Every year the Chosen are sent off to see if they can connect with long-lost kin on the devastated mainland. They never return. This time the Chosen are split in half and Taka’s group is sent on an even more perilous journey across the ocean on a flimsy craft, in search of the sacred kuma plant. To tell you what happens would ruin the story but I will say the ending is both shocking and right at the same time. Boys, you will see a hero in action. Girls, it will tear at your heart strings.

Sacrifice was selected as a finalist in the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. Initially, I have to confess, I wondered why, but Orwin recognizes that boys read differently to girls and as I’ve said, this is unashamedly a boy’s book. By the time I got to the end, it was my book too. I’m thrilled I persevered and I’m thrilled the judges selected it as a finalist. I recommend this book for older teens.

Orwin, Joanna. Sacrifice, HarperCollinsPublishers, Auckland, 2011.

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