Well done, Juliet Blair! What a great read. Juliet has created a whole new dimension in a believable world, so much so that I imagine young readers may be inclined to search beach rock faces for swirling vortexes. A piece of paper with a scribbled note may never look the same again, in case it is a message from another place. You will not be disappointed if you pick up this book.
Arlo and his friend Kate are often up to a bit of mild, harmless trouble; normal for a couple of young teens. Kate, who is an experienced young rock climber, drags Arlo out for a late night climb to see her unusual find. They soon discover there is a whole lot more to the swirling rocky formation then a pretty pattern though.
The beach community of Southcliff, where they live, had an unusual land shift many years ago where an entire section of the town was swallowed up; it seemed that no one involved survived. But as Arlo and Kate soon discover, they were the victims of a large vortex opening. They find themselves in the very place the missing piece of Southcliff ended up. While some things have stayed the same, much has changed. The small community of Spindrift, as it is known, has had to survive without modern technologies and conveniences, and very limited resources. The locals have created their own laws and rules and it becomes clear very quickly that Arlo and Kate are a long way from home. With family, school and normality so far away and their lives in a danger they could never have predicted, how will they adapt to their strange new world? Will they find a way to get home? With Spindrift's bizarre rules, which make life for an outsider impossible, will two inventive modern kids find solutions before it is too late?
Take the plunge with Arlo and the Vortex Voyage; you won't regret it. Juliet Blair has added the right features for a brilliant junior novel which can cross into a wider audience. The characters are full with individual relatable traits and personal circumstances, such as divided families and the deep-seated emotions that arise from absence. I love that the mysterious world is not too unusual, as it really creates such an element of the possible that you can consider the reality of the situation. Like being on a deserted island without your ipod and gameboy; it could happen under the right set of circumstances. The Spindrift residents are a well created mixed bag. Imagine the isolation where a cult-like commandment rules over the community, some who follow by the letter and agree whole heartedly, others who do because they don't have a choice, and those who are secretly looking for a way out. Power, greed, adventure, friendship and a whole lot of other juicy contributions really make this book a gem. Get your hands on it!
– Angela Hall, Bug in a Book
This is a novel about the adventures of the title's hero, Arlo and his friend Kate. One day they are rock climbing at the beach ... at midnight. During the climb they are sucked away through the rock into an alternative version of an Australian Beach town. Unfortunately there is a distinct lack of modern comforts, like television and junk food. There is, however, a large quantity of intrigue and adventure.¨
The small town in the story has been sucked there because of a cataclysm some ten years earlier. In that time the local committee has engaged in a little social engineering to keep everyone on the straight and narrow. The plot centres around the protagonists' attempts to navigate the politics of the local town and to find a way home. It all hangs together fairly well and the language is descriptive and solid. Suitable for older primary children and up.
– Reading Time
When Arlo’s friend, Kate asks him to meet her to do some rock climbing up a cliff on the beach at midnight, he is intrigued and nervous. What they see when they climb the cliff mesmerises then captures them as they are accidentally drawn into a vortex.
They emerge into a beachside settlement that they discover is the part of their home community that disappeared mysteriously without trace in the Cataclysm some years earlier, during a storm. Arlo and Kate are confronted by having to live in an isolated community that is surviving with limited resources. There are no mobile phones, no school as they know it, no shops, no junk food, no internet. Priorities are different and so are the rules of this community as they soon find out.
This fast-paced story explores many issues associated with authority, survival, relationships and independence and will keep the reader intrigued to the last page as dramatic events unfold. This book is suitable for readers aged 10 plus.
– Margaret Warner, Buzz Words
Arlo’s pal, Kate, inveigles him into a midnight cliff-climb to see a strange swirl of lights she’s found. The pair are sucked through that vortex into a part of their town which cracked away in a storm years before. The breakaway town is completely cut off from the ‘real’ world and has evolved a social structure, with governing body and legal system. One basic rule – no discussion of the world they used to know is permitted! How difficult is that going to be for Arlo and Kate, who just slipped through from there? The castaway colony has evolved ingenious strategies for survival using whatever was still available to them. At compulsory school, part of the curriculum is work experience, such as gutting fish, or cleaning out human waste! The teens spend their free time trying to find a vortex to take them home, which is of course considered against the rules by the governing body. The tale is cleverly told an the ingenuity and bravery of the two children, the obtuseness of most of the castaways, all are convincingly described. A satisfying story; not just boys, but girls too will relate to Arlo and Kate. Holiday reading for young teens.
– Crisetta MacLeod, AurealisXpress
This is a book that I would buy, and would re-read with pleasure.
– Sally Odgers