I took a while to sink my teeth into The Extraordinary Colours of Auden Dare. I went slowly through the first few chapters: I found the narrative voice a little puzzling, and I could not figure out whether I liked the protagonist, Auden Dare.
Once I got sucked into the book, though, it was a different story.
The cover asks whether a friendship can save a world under threat – and the way Zillah Bethell deals with this idea is tender and moving, for the friendship is a most irregular one.
A dystopian novel, The Extraordinary Colours of Auden Dare is set at a time when a war is being waged over the most precious commodity in the world – water. A country like the UK is slightly better off because it is surrounded by the sea, and though the water needs to be desalinated before being fit for consumption, there is access to it. Landlocked countries are in a terrible state, and the black market for contaminated, dangerous water is thriving.
When Auden Dare’s uncle, a scientist Dr Jonah Bloom, dies, the boy and his mother move into Dr Bloom’s house. Uncle Jonah was a genius, and Auden is convinced that the late scientist was trying to create a machine that would solve Auden’s rare visual condition that makes him completely colour-blind.
Auden makes friends with Vivi (whom his uncle used to call Six Six because of the Roman numerals VI-VI), and together, they discover an invention that Dr Bloom had hidden away – a poetry-quoting robot called Paragon, a robot that can think and feel.
The three of them need to answer many, many questions. Was Dr Jonah Bloom killed? What was he working on that was so dangerous? What is Paragon’s purpose? Can anything stop the world from going to war?
Love, trust, friendship and sacrifice – all these are woven into this achingly beautiful story about courage and selflessness.
|Title||The Extraordinary Colours of Auden Dare|
|Rating (out of 5)||5|