Seventeen

Australian YA post-apocalyptic drama (Seventeen Series Book 1)

Young Adult - Sci-Fi
374 Pages
Reviewed on 08/12/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Seventeen (Seventeen Series Book 1) is a work of post-apocalyptic and science fiction drama written for young adults by author Suzanne Lowe. As the opening novel to the series of the same name, Seventeen takes us to Australia and the famous outback in a world like none we’ve ever seen before. When a global virus kills every member of the population above the age of seventeen, the rules for life are obliterated. Desperate to survive this new children-led world and its many disasters, sisters Lexi and Hadley seek survival by shifting from the big city to a small town called Jasper’s Bay. But here the danger mounts in new, even more terrifying forms, putting the town and its residents in danger.

I was caught up right from the first moment by the fantastic concept and possibilities of Seventeen, and author Suzanne Lowe has only just touched the tip of the iceberg in this excellent and intriguing series opener. Lexi and Hadley provide a foil for one another with their often opposite personalities but they come together at just the right times to make the emotional power of the survival elements come through. In places, the novel is superbly tense and exciting, and at others, we have room to breathe and explore the interesting new social, economic and criminal systems that a world led by kids and teens presents. All of this set against the backdrop of a burnt-out and broken Australia makes Seventeen a unique read, suitable for YA fantasy, dystopia, and sci-fi fans of all ages.

Amanda Rofe

Seventeen by Suzanne Lowe is the first book in the Seventeen Series. A young adult post-apocalyptic novel set in Australia, it tells the story of two sisters struggling to survive after the planet has been struck by a catastrophic virus. The KV17 virus changes life forever for everyone by gradually killing off all the adults. Lexi and Hadley watch their parents die and then have to decide whether or not to remain in a city that feels increasingly hostile. After a break-in at their home, they flee and head for Jasper's Bay, a place that is run on solar power. On the journey, they pick up Jason, a teenager who is alone and in need of some friends. However, when they get there they are forced to deal with a violent group of thugs intent on destruction.

Seventeen is a dystopian novel which provides a contemporary spin on Lord of the Flies where the children have to organize themselves and survive on their own. It's an interesting concept to explore especially in light of today's digital technology and the ease with which we are able to access information. The kids still had food, water, and electricity in Jasper's Bay but that began to change towards the end of the book. It will be interesting to see how they manage further into the crisis. There were some gripping scenes such as where the very young Aboriginal boy had been captured by the bullies and was trying to escape. There is some knife violence which is rather brutal but, overall, violence is toned down to reflect the younger age group. I think that Suzanne Lowe writes a good first novel in an exciting series for teenagers.

Caitlin Lyle Farley

The KV17 virus emerges in a small town in northern Japan and spreads rapidly, killing all adults and leaving the teenagers and children to fend for themselves in Seventeen. Lexi Valentine and her younger sister Hadley are average Australian teenagers when the news of a mysterious illness first appears on the media. Over the following few months, they outlive both their parents and experience the slow breakdown of society as schools close, electricity supply becomes intermittent, and the phone lines and internet stop working. After the second break-in by a looter, Lexi and Hadley are forced to admit that Perth has become too dangerous and leave the city, hoping to find safety in the smaller towns.

Suzanne Lowe’s debut novel, Seventeen, is a heartfelt dystopian story about surviving a total collapse of society and infrastructure. Lexi, Hadley, and the friends they make on their journey from the city are convincing, as are the more lawless and miscreant characters they encounter terrorizing the town of Jasper’s Bay. Somewhat awkward prose, in which the characters tend to make decisions by speaking to themselves, doesn’t detract from the overall thoughtfulness and relatability of this markedly realistic dystopian novel. Lowe’s focus on the lifelike and personal relationships of the child and teenage survivors imbues Seventeen with a sense of intimacy within the story that makes the mingled hopefulness and dread of the bittersweet conclusion that much more profoundly felt. A unique and philosophical dystopian novel for YA readers, Seventeen is a promising start to Lowe’s Seventeen series.