This is something truly special; a book that feels like a classic and surely should become one. 'Scavengers' by Darren Simpson is a masterly, beautifully poetic and urgent tale for our times. It is superbly written and a thrill to read.
Landfill lives in a place called Hinterland; a sprawling place of rubbish and wildlife. As a scavenger he eats whatever he can, looks after his wooflings and checks the walls are secure from the Outsiders. Landfill must follow Bagagoo's rules and never go Outside for fear of succumbing to the rot. But rules are meant to be broken...
'Scavengers' is parts 'The Jungle Book', parts 'Stig of the Dump' and parts 'The Middler'. It also echoed 'The Graveyard Book' by Neil Gaiman for truly evoking an unusual setting in such a memorable way. But 'Scavengers' is very much it's own brilliantly realised edifice of wonder. Darren Simpson rummages around with language as if he's written for a lifetime; plucking and inventing words that dazzle, stun and repulse in quite an extraordinary way. He really is a hunkadory writer, and one to be watched.
While his descriptions are both poetic and gut-wrenchingly raw, it is his depiction of the relationship between Landfill and Bagaloo which is the brilliant heart of the story. I haven't quite come across such a startling dynamic between two central characters in quite a while. Quite honestly I was nearly in tears at the end, and I didn't expect to feel that way at all. Darren Simpson takes risks, and this is a great thing. The book will be sure to provoke much challenging discussion in classrooms and with children in general. This really sets it apart, daring to make you think and question how you feel. It is deserving of great attention.
'Scavengers' will stick with me for some time. Read it as a prime example of what children's literature can really do!