Changing Gear

Scot Gardner

Allen & Unwin

June 2018

$19.99 AU

282p pb

ISBN: 978-1760631468

from Allen & Unwin...

Merrick Hilton's done a runner. 

His folks think he's studying, but the real world has been calling for years and he can't ignore it any longer. A postie bike, a bedroll and a big sky - that's all he needs.

But there's no telling how he'll handle roadkill, stolen oranges and unexpected romance, let alone the rough stuff. And in the real world nothing goes entirely as planned. Thankfully Victor - the old bloke Merrick meets on the road - knows a thing or two about broken bike chains. And broken hearts.

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There are few books I have read in the YA genre that truly captured my attention and held it throughout the entire novel. Changing Gear by Scot Gardner is one of those few. The story follows 18-year-old Merrick Hilton as he embarks on a journey to escape the stress and responsibilities that come with adulthood. Ironically, it is on his voyage that he truly becomes an adult.

Changing Gears is a young adult novel that centres around themes such as adventure, family, grief and how to move on from it. While the events in the story cannot fully be established in the real world, everything feels natural and places the book firmly in the realms of realistic fiction.

These themes cannot fully encompass the book, however. Gardner has managed the impossible and created characters that are human and likable. Merrick’s internal dialogue walked the narrow tightrope between humour and absurdity, the action sequences all were realistic and delivered a true sense of excitement, and the dialogue between the rest of the characters all felt utterly natural. Changing Gears is a novel about humans, concerning human emotions and delivered all of that beautifully in human interactions. As a young adult novel, this book is definitely aimed at more mature readers, both through the themes as well as the language. Readers from 14 and onwards are bound to have a fun time reading Changing Gears.

Raisa, age 15, Canberra

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