This is the third book from critically acclaimed author Chloe Daykin. This time round she takes the reader on a whirlwind adventure through the sights and sounds of Peru and deep into the Amazon rainforest. It is no surprise to read in the author’s notes that Daykin spent time in Peru whilst writing this book. A grant from the Arts Council afforded her the opportunity to experience Peru, and she took two schools along for the ride (albeit a virtual ride). The read is packed full of the kind of authenticity that only comes from living those experiences yourself.
Meet Maya and Raul. Both trying to escape. Both searching for answers. Maya is far from her Glasgow home and when her dad disappears in the cloud forest she is alone in a foreign country. Desperate to uncover the reason for his disappearance and learn why she is now being chased, she is left with only one choice…RUN. Raul is trying to escape his past and the nightmares that haunt him. Only by returning into the jungle and back to his true home will he be able to free himself from the burden that he carries. When their paths cross in the jungle their stories become inexplicably linked with Maya’s scientific father seemingly working with an illegal logging company who are responsible for the deaths that haunt Raul and the responsibility he bears for causing them. Working together they must navigate issues of friendship and trust in their search for the truth and to stop the effects of corruption spreading even further.
The story is told from a dual perspective, switching between the individual stories of Raul and Maya. I really enjoyed this way of telling the story as as a reader you get to experience the surroundings, emotions and actions from both characters point of view. As Raul and Maya’s stories become more and more closely intertwined it almost feels as if one voice is telling the story.
Daykin captures the sights, smells, sounds and textures of the rainforest perfectly, her descriptions are vivid and real. She seamlessly weaves the modern with the myths and legends of the past and brings to life the spiritual connection between humans and nature. So much so that when Maya starts glowing it is easy to accept as a reader as it seems perfectly appropriate for such a thing to happen within the world that Daykin has created.
Fire Girl, Forest Boy is a gripping adventure story full of twists and turns with environmentalism and just a hint of magic at its heart. Whilst this is a work of fiction the issues raised in it are very real. Deforestation and illegal logging is rife and people will continue to be involved in the trade whilst there is money to be made. Daykin has cleverly explored the exploitation of land and how it leads to the loss of culture and identity.
A great read for readers of 9+. Particularly suited for readers who have an interest in the Amazon rainforest and for fans of Katherine Rundell’s ‘The Explorer’.