Pax, Journey Home
256pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99
A year has passed since Peter and Pax have seen each other, since the separation of a once inseparable pair.
The war is over but the land has been left desecrated and deserted as the water supplies have been poisoned by heavy metals. Peter’s father has died in questionable circumstances and although Peter is back living with Vola, and his grandfather visits regularly, he believes that everything he loves he hurts and they leave him so he is determined to shut the world out and live alone. After all, he is nearly 14.
And so, the boy-man sets out on a journey to reclaim his old home; to join the Water Warriors, a band of people painstakingly cleaning up the polluted waterways to restore life -flora, fauna and human – to it; and to keep the world at arm’s length and out of his heart forever. That way he can keep those he might love, safe. But is that possible? He certainly didn’t count on meeting Jade, let alone her insight and wisdom.
Meanwhile, Pax has adapted to the wild he did not seek; and has become father to a litter of kits, one of whom is an inquisitive, feisty female whom he must protect at all costs, particularly after she drinks deeply of the contaminated water. And as they continue their long journey home, Pax continually picks up the scent of the boy who abandoned him…
This is one of those stories that stays with you long after you reluctantly turn the final page, not just because of the power of the surface story but because the layers and currents that run through it,just like those of the river that is at its heart – the river that put Peter back into old territory and provides Pax with safe passage from humans and predators. Although Pennypacker believed that she would not write another novel after Pax, clearly deep within her she knew there was more of this story to be told and this is the compelling sequel, one that kept me up well past my bedtime as I immersed myself in it, wanting to finish but knowing that when I did I would be left with that feeling that comes when an absorbing plot and great writing come together.
If you have mature, independent readers who can appreciate the nuances and parallels of what is between and beyond the words then this is the duo for them. Less sophisticated readers will enjoy the story for what it is, but it is those who are able to reach down to the deeper waters below the surface who will most appreciate it.