I could never quite see the attraction of those two enduring Aussie soaps, ‘Neighbours’ and ‘Home and Away’, although if you have the climate the Poms have to put up with I can see a reason for their adoration of them – a daily dose of Oz sunshiney-ness (yes, I know – not the right spelling. I just prefer the word that way) would bring light and colour to their dun world. It is, though, undoubtedly true that the twin mainstays of our early evening programming have provided an excellent breeding ground in the basics of acting for many who have gone on to wider fame nationally – even internationally – in the movies and music. Some have become household names – you know them! I don’t have to list! – as well as fodder for the celebrity rags.
One who has taken a road less travelled for ex-soapies is Tristan Bancks. He is now starting to attract attention as a wordsmith for younger people. He has tried his hand, post his role as Tag O’Neale in HandA, at all manner of vocations, including directing and anchoring tele shows here and in the UK. I suspect it is as a writer that he’ll find his forte. He surely will on the basis of ‘Two Wolves’. This is his latest and perhaps his most polished of now a very worthy list of titles, including ‘My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up’, ‘Mac Slater Cool Hunter’, ‘Galactic Adventures First Kids in Space’ and the ‘Nit Boy’ series (about a kid with the worst case of nits in world history). Most of these are seemingly designed to tickle the juvenile funny bone, but the content of ‘Two Wolves’ is decidedly no laughing matter. It would have many a young fella, as well as perhaps a lass or two, on the edge of their seats. I wish it was around in my teaching days.
This habitué of Byron Bay is right on the money with this novel. It measures up to his goal of producing a ‘…fast paced work appealing to youngsters.’ – with something here to inspire as well. There is excitement and suspense on every second page as Ben Silver and feisty little sis Olive try to find a way out of the pickles they get themselves in. You see, Ben, just entering teenagerdom, has a father who is – let’s not mince words – an out and out dropkick. What I do like about this nasty pasty, as horrid as he is to his long suffering missus and kids, is that, despite his depicableness, nary an expletive exits his mouth, no matter how much he does his block. Brainless bogan that he is, he doesn’t need the f-bomb to get his point across loud and clear. This would have been a temptation for many more ‘cutting edge’ practitioners, but thankfully Bancks doesn’t succumb.
The author has used, as a basis for his storyline, recent headlines about bank malfunctions, awarding surprised customers instant wealth. Most, of course, would do the right thing – despite the ‘big fours’ crusade to rip off its customers to the max – but a few souls have taken the money and run. Such a twit is Ben’s old man. With his family going bush in response and the cops hot on their trail, the young man, who has desires to be a law enforcer one day, has some decisions to make – does family or right come first. What happens is our ever resourceful hero tries to tread a fine path between the two – a path that becomes increasing fraught as the book proceeds apace. In all this Ben is mentored by Sam Gribley, with those who are au fait with children’s literature knowing all about his own battles on his side of the mountain. He’s a good lad to have in your corner.
This book would be the perfect offering to dish up to a class approximating the age of the main protagonist. Ideally, presenting it to a cohort of boys would achieve the best results. In the past I have found selecting class novels quite onerous as it is far easer keeping girls under the thumb than boys, so usually gender bias is skewered the latter’s way for peace – and I was guilty of that myself . I was aware of doing so and tried to make up for it in other ways ensuring, for example, most of my short stories, read aloud, had girls at the helm. Olive, as resilient as she is, because of her age, doesn’t cut the mustard here.
The ending is a ripper as Bancks’ pulls out all stops to have our hero, after all he went through, finally have to face his nemesis in a final showdown. This novel possesses much that is life affirming and is simply a thoroughly good read. I enjoyed it immensely and I am sixty plus!
Tristan Bancks’ website = http://www.tristanbancks.com/