Friday, July 22, 2011

Review: This Is Shyness by Leanne Hall

This Is Shyness by Leanne Hall

Pages: 272
Publisher: Text Publishing
Published: August 2nd, 2010
IBSN: 9781921656521

A guy who howls. A girl on a mission to forget.

In the suburb of Shyness, where the sun doesn’t rise and the border crackles with a strange energy, Wolfboy meets a stranger at the Diabetic Hotel. She tells him her name is Wildgirl, and she dares him to be her guide through the endless night.

But then they are mugged by the sugar-crazed Kidds. And what plays out is moving, reckless...dangerous. There are things that can only be said in the dark. And one long night is time enough to change your life.

This Is Shyness seemed, initially, like a simple, sweet, coming-of-age novel. And I was pleased to find it was actually much more than that.

Shyness is an odd town. The sun stopped rising there years ago, leaving the residents in perpetual darkness. No one knows why, but the people bothered by it have mostly left and the others, the Mushrooms, have flourished in the dark. There are cults like the Dreamers, full of people who sleep constantly and live in their dreams. There are gangs like the Kidds, for small children who take sugar addiction to a whole new level. It's an odd place, and This Is Shyness tells us about Wildgirl's first night there, her adventure through the dark with Wolfboy.

The point of view alternated between our two main characters: Wildgirl and Wolfboy. Their voices were easily discernible and the dual perspective really added something to story: Wildgirl gave us the outsider look at Shyness and Wolfboy gaves us the insider look. Both were incredibly likeable and they complemented each other's personalities superbly.

The characters were easy to empathise with, given the simple and poetic writing style that helped bring the characters to life. Even Wolfboy, with such a strange persona (I mean, he's called Wolfboy for a reason), felt relatable.

The plot was exciting, but what I enjoyed more than that was the less-literal journey the characters took meanwhile. Both beloved protagonists became stronger people through their journey and it was inspiring to watch this transformation.

This Is Shyness was a strange yet touching Australian novel. Incredibly unique and richly imaginative. I recommend it for fans of other books spanning just one life-changing night: Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist, Graffiti Moon.

I give This Is Shyness a 5 out of 5.