From the author of CBCA-shortlisted Yellow comes a powerful exploration of family and identity set against the humid build-up to the wet season in Darwin.
It’s the middle of the night and I’m awake, because even though I’m seventeen I still haven’t outgrown the childhood monster that haunts you in the dark. I haven’t outgrown it, because when I was a child, the monster was real.
He was my father.
But the thing is, the monster was the person I was closest to in the whole world, closer than I’ve been to anyone since.
That will tell you everything you need to know about me.
And still, I wouldn’t hesitate to kill the monster.
That will tell you even more about me.
Seventeen-year-old Iliad Piper is named after war and angry at the world. Growing up with a violent father and abused mother, she doesn’t know how to do relationships, family or friends. A love-hate friendship with Max turns into a prank war, and she nearly destroys her first true friendship with misfit Mia. Ily takes off her armour for nobody, until she meets Jared, someone who’s as complicated as she is.
Title: The Build-Up Season
Authors: Megan Jacobson
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Release Date: July 31, 2017
Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
The Build Up Season was so raw and Ily was such a great character that Jacobson created. Some of the written sections on domestic violence was a bit scary, but definitely eye-opening for individuals to be aware of bad habits, signs, and people’s use of manipulative and belittling language in a hostile relationship.
But on the other hand, there were some beautifully written romantic scenes that every older girl will love while reading this book. But there was also darker and confronting scenes that needed to be written for Ily to understand her self-worth. I thought that each romantic scene written was crafted really well to get the big message across: that every girl should understand her self worth, and be introspectively aware of how she feels in a romantic relationship.
The ultimate question that you’ll keep asking yourself, will Ily end up with the hunky wannabe actor Jared, or the annoying and obnoxious trickster, Max?
Again, to me, self worth was such a huge theme in the novel. And my hat goes off to Jacobson!
I also loved how Jacobson used the setting and landscape as a character. We’re thrown into the harsh, and humid build-up of the wet season in Darwin. The environment complimented each scene Jacobson crafted, especially a feisty yet heartfelt moment on a boat while a crocodile crawls along a riverbank. Great imagery!
Furthermore, the Darwin atmosphere becomes a significant metaphor of Ily’s relationships with her friends and family. Each element of Darwin and the inner life of Ily crosses paths strategically by Jacobson, which help map the reality of Jacobson’s book.
Lastly, I’m a sucker for any books that have references to mythology and ancient history. And the fact that Ily’s real name is Iliad – let’s just say my heart swooped! Especially that her name is so inextricably connected to her relationship with her father, and her evolving identity.
One of my favourite quotes in the book:
“You named me Iliad after a book filled cover to cover with war, Mum! How can I be anything but hostile.” – Page 4
A fantastic work of fiction on such a hard topic to write about!
4 / 5 stars
For more information:
Visit Megan Jacobson’s website.
Check out more of my book reviews here.