The Rain Never Came by Lachlan Walter

Suzie Eisfelder

This is one of the books I bought at BendiCon this year. Keep an eye on their website for the next convention, they’re great fun…much better than the big ones. I like to find new authors with awesome writing and I think I’ve hit it this time. Walter has a PhD that ‘critically and creatively explored the relationship between Australian post-apocalyptic fiction and Australian notions of national identity.’ I feel I can see some of that in this book, but to be sure I’d have to read his PhD. I’m up for this challenge, it sounds really interesting.

This book is set in Australia, not the Australia we know today but parts of our country going through the absolutely worst drought ever…forty plus years! I’ve lived through droughts of thirteen years and that’s hard enough, but forty years would be a real challenge. Add to the mix people who just want to live in their small country town, and a government who wants to ship everyone out to the part of the country that still has some water. It’s an interesting mix and I wasn’t excited to see echoes of Nazi Germany in here – people were being shipped out by train. I understand the trains in this book were not cattle carts, the people were treated a lot more civilly, but it still sent shivers down my spine.

This is nicely written. The tension and friendship between the two main characters came through. I enjoyed how the reason for the tension came to us in little snippets through the book until we finally understood. I felt this little family illustrated the problems that families can face and that sometimes family is family and they stick together no matter what.

We got some good detail in this book about how they live from day to day. How they coped with growing their own food under drought conditions and how it’s so easy to run out of water.

The picture on the front cover is very evocative. You can see the heat haze hanging over everything. The road gives us the idea of decay, so that we get the impression of the country going to pieces and nature starting to take over. The road sign on the left shows us that Gisborne is only 3km away and Melbourne 56km. I’ve been to Gisborne a number of times, it’s about an hour’s drive from my house. Showing this sign really gave me a shock and brought it all home to me. I’ve spent quite a few minutes just looking at this cover. If you click on this link you can have a look at the cover and you’ll see what I mean. While you’re there you might buy this book, it’s worth it.

What I didn’t like was that we never found out where the line in the country was drawn. We were given a location where people were sent, but it can’t be just one place, and it was talked about as a line. I just wanted more details. Maybe we’ll get a sequel with details such as those included.

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