After months of attacks and reprisals, a shaky ceasefire holds between the warring sides of the river.
Southside waits nervously, with a kind of hope that feels like defeat.
Then the world erupts.
And from the debris comes a voice where no voice should be.
When Nik follows it he steps into a complex web of power, fear and betrayal that enwraps the city.
Who is the mysterious girl in the rubble? What is her connection to the secret experiments taking place at the Marsh? And why does she cry Havoc?
But before Nik can find answers to these questions he must cross the river and find his father.
And face the hardest decision of his life.
Havoc lived up to my enjoyment of The Bridge, which is saying a lot because I really enjoyed The Bridge. The writing style that I loved so much in the first book was still as wonderful in this one. Of this I was glad. Sometimes writing style changes between books (and there were four years between these two books), but it stayed the same in Havoc, and I was immersed in it once again. Nik was just as loveable as he was in The Bridge. Perhaps even more so, because we really get to see his feelings for Fyffe, Lanya, and his father come into light even more. He’s put under a lot of stress in Havoc, and he handles it badly and well all at the same time. Which is so believable. I mean – he’s a teenage boy with the fate of people’s lives in his hands. Of course he’s going to be torn. And he is. Again with the realistic presentation of a teenager in a dystopian society. Although Nik does take on a more pivotal role in the revolutionary movement of Southside against Cityside, he by no means leads it. He provides ideas and a means by which to be the spark people need, but he isn’t the leader. And I appreciated this so much. Again, there were heaps of politics in Havoc, as there were in The Bridge. Possibly even more so because we have some people from the Dry brought into the mix, and that means there’s a third party to contend with. Do you trust them, or don’t you? Are they on Cityside’s side, Southside’s side, or their own? There’s a lot of speculation and postulation about everything and everyone, and I loved it. Higgins does a great job of creating political intrigue in a fictional universe. One of my favourite aspects of Havoc was the introduction of Sandor. He is sassy and completely charming. He brought a sense of levity to the storyline, which it needed. Everything was a lot darker in Havoc than it had been in The Bridge (although that had seemed almost impossible after THAT ENDING), and Sandor’s quips and attitude just gave me something to smile at in the midst of the war between Cityside and Southside. I must admit that I was a little worried after finishing The Bridge because I thought that a sequel perhaps wasn’t needed. Even thought The Bridge had a VERY open ending that left me keen to pick up a sequel … I was worried that Havoc might not bring back everything I loved about The Bridge (if that makes sense). But Havoc was an incredible sequel that stands on its own two feet, and brings a completely believable new aspect to the storyline of its predecessor. I am actually hoping that a third book may be in the mix because I would love to see what happens to Cityside and Southside – and all the characters I have come to care about so much.
Havoc is a brilliant follow up to The Bridge, but darker and more enthralling than the original. Tensions between Southside and Cityside have never been higher, and Nik with the blood from the failed exchange on his hands. His former life is in tatters and he now lives in limbo, no longer welcome in Cityside and not quite a Southsider either. In Havoc, the reader is introduced to One City, where the community is believe to be working with Southside and now a target for a Cityside infiltration. Nik isn't the leader of a revolution, but is determined to play a hand in finding the truth beyond the war torn landscape, discovering who he is along the way. The biggest drawcard of the Southside series is the characters and political unrest. It's tense and provides the reader with a sense of rightness as Nik emerges from once a brainwashed teen, into a brave young man who isn't afraid to ask the difficult questions, no matter the answers. It's simply an intelligent read for dystopian readers. Jane Higgins doesn't follow the usual tropes, but creates her own path. The political aspects are suspenseful and delicious. I adored it. It's hard to fathom that Southside stems from a debut novelist, and I can't wait to see what Jane brings out next. She's definitely an author to watch out for.
Havoc is the second novel by New Zealand author, Jane Higgins. It is sequel to The Bridge and is set six months after the events of that book. When a barrage of rockets from Cityside inflicts enormous damage on Moldam HQ, costs Breken lives and brings down the Moldam Bridge, it is apparent that the precarious ceasefire is over. Nik and Lanya rush to help, and Nik risks his life to save a girl from under the falling bridgework, a girl who seems neither a Citysider, nor Breken, but possibly a Dry-dweller. A girl who keeps repeating the word “Havoc”. While Nik’s father is Cityside, organising the One City activists, Cityside Director of Security, Frieda Kelleran warns this is just the beginning, and infiltration of One City is imminent. With his knowledge of the City and his language, it makes sense for Nik to cross over to warn One City and try to find out some other answers: just what is Operation Havoc? Why is there a delegation of Dry-dwellers Cityside? And why are the City’s elite moving out? As Nik uncovers evidence of biological warfare and war crimes, he also learns more about his parents, finds out who he can trust, and is forced to make an impossible choice. Higgins continues with her imaginative plot and most of the characters from The Bridge reappear, along with a few delightful new ones. While there is some humour, Higgins does present her characters with thought-provoking dilemmas (and then solves them rather cleverly). While there is some recap, readers will certainly enjoy this sequel more for having read The Bridge. And while events seem to be satisfactorily wrapped up, giving this book a final feel, there is still plenty of scope for a further volume. Another excellent YA read from a prize-winning novelist.
After the reading (and thoroughly enjoying) The Bridge, I noted that the story seemed to have parallels to the Israeli-Palestinian situation. In Havoc, that comparison is almost inescapable, between the curfews, check points and lock-downs. But of course, it could be any city at any point in recent history divided by war and fear. And for me, that's the point of these well-crafted thrillers: that there are good people on both sides of any conflict and your loyalties - and perceptions of 'right' and 'wrong' - are always dependent on your point of view. Havoc is an excellent follow-on from The Bridge. It expands on the world we came to know in the first book, and pushes Nik and Lanya in new and disturbing directions. Nik continues to be a strong and likable narrator. In Havoc, he's forced to make an impossible choice, one that gives him a fresh perspective on the choices made my his parents. This dilemma also ramps up the stakes, leading to a heart-pounding and rewarding finale. This is an intelligent YA series. Jane Higgins deftly explores what happens when we fall into the trap of demonising those who threaten us - or are different in ways that make us fear them. It also underscores the futility of war. The Southside series may be too close to the world in which we live now to truly be dystopian. But if we're going to call it that, let's also say it's one of the best examples of that genre on shelves today.