The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth

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The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: An excellent debut novel featuring a scary alternative reality in which no child is safe. Spooky stuff, and really readable.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1444010237

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Devin lives on a farm with his grandfather, away from the rest of the world. He knows a little about it – how the gap between rich and poor is far wider than the world we live in, and how many children now live on the street, scavenging for scraps to say alive. But, he’s never been that concerned. On the farm the life is a simple one, but they can grow enough food to get by, and they’re happy. When tragedy strikes, Devin is forced to leave his home and venture into the city for the first time.

It’s a horrible shock for him, and when he hears of a haven for children, a home where they can go and be cared for, play, and generally get to be children, he pushes his scepticism to one side, so eager is he to believe it’s true.

At first, the Gabriel H. Penn Home for Childhood seems like a magical place, with limitless food, and time to play, away from the stresses of the city. But as Devin and his new friends quickly discover, nothing can be quite as good as it appears.

This is an imaginative piece of young adult fiction that has all the ingredients for a top read: adventure, mystery, urgency and suspense. The world may be different from ours, but the children aren’t really, and their needs and wants are quite primal (food, shelter, someone to care for them and keep them safe) so you can relate to them immediately.

It’s an unputdownable read that had me gripped from the opening scene, and ultimately left me feeling grateful that this dystopia is a fictional one.

The story has lots of scene changes, from the comforts of the farm to the loud, dangerous city to the peaceful disconcerting Home, which keep it interesting, and the story moving on. The unpleasant goings on have been going on for some time, but it takes someone whose mind is a bit different, like Devin’s, to blow the lid on what’s happening.

I love dystopian fiction, and I think it works well when it falls under the category of young adult and has a child or teenage narrator as in this case. Things seem a lot simpler when told through their eyes rather than those of a jaded adult, and especially in this case, having someone who had never known another world, but had vaguely heard of it from his older relatives, was effective.

I highly recommend this debut novel, and look forward to whatever the author does next. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book. We also have reviews of Unsworth's The Girl Who Thought Her Mother Was a Mermaid and The Time Traveller and the Tiger.

The style and themes reminded me of another favourite, author and were also reminiscent of The Fall by Claire Merle. Check them out!

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Buy The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth at


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