Review: The Bridge by Jane Higgins

Publication Date: August 1st, 2011
Text Publishing
Format: Paperback, 363 pages
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
The City is divided. The bridges gated. In Southside, the hostiles live in squalor and desperation, waiting for a chance to overrun the residents of Cityside.

Nik is still in high school but destined for a great career with the Internal Security and Intelligence Services, the brains behind the war. But when ISIS comes recruiting, everyone is shocked when he isn’t chosen. There must be an explanation, but no one will talk about it. Then the school is bombed and the hostiles take the bridges. Buildings are burning, kids are dead, and the hostiles have kidnapped Sol. Now ISIS is hunting for Nik.

But Nik is on the run, with Sol’s sister Fyffe and ISIS hot on their trail. They cross the bridge in search of Sol, and Nik finds answers to questions he’d never dared to ask.

The Bridge is a gritty adventure set in a future world where fear of outsiders pervades everything. A heart-stopping novel about friendship, identity and courage from an exciting new voice in young-adult fiction.

This book gave me grief; it was like staring at the sun, you know it’s harmful to your eyes and yet you can’t look away. It was a brutal read but try as I might, I couldn’t refrain from reading. It was harsh, it tugged at my heart strings and it put my brain into some calisthenics its never been through before.

The City is at war, divided into settlements where some are living in impoverish, deplorable conditions. If you’re living in the Cityside, you might be able to live decently but at a cost of your freedom. If you find yourself in the Southside, food, shelter, medicine take a backseat to weapons and arms. Not only would you be fighting the people from Cityside, you’d be fighting a futile war inside an even more divided community. Nik Stais had never known a family aside from Lou, Ffyffe, and Sol. When Lou was killed in a school bombing, he set out to take Fyffe and Sol back to their home where they would be safe. Easier said than done, especially when the road to safety is paved with ISIS soldiers hot on their tails and checkpoints guarded by soldiers against cityfolks. When the dust cleared, Nik and Fyffe crossed the bridge to Southside in search of a kidnapped Sol, taken for ransom by the Remnants – another faction in Southside who are set to destroy any hopes of peacetalks. To infiltrate the land of the hostiles is a suicide mission but they refused to stand by and watch Sol be just another victim of a senseless war.

This book does not pull any punches. It’s a gritty tale of a boy who unknowingly stumbled upon his true identity set in a world so harsh that it took me several tries to finally man up and finish. It was garish story about the fundamental violence of war, its ugliness and the inevitable loss of humanity anchored by power-hungry men. But it also gave a vivid picture of optimism to some people who hasn’t lost hope inspite of being exposed to everyday carnage and brutality.

I was both in awe and angry at Nik for his courage. He was an unflappable character whose only got love fuelling his steadfast resolve to rescue a little boy who’s not even a blood relation. The author seemed to have written every single character with such resiliency that I sometimes find myself saying, “Are you for real?”. Unwavering, unflinching, undaunted. I especially have a high regard for timid, thoughtful, wistful Fyffe. You’d think she was a weak character at first but she surprised me – how far this girl would go to save her brother and her resolute belief in Nik just made her a kick ass Mary Sue character in my book.

Reading this book is definitely not a walk in the park. The plot would take into little alleys that eventually lead into an ending that was somewhat open-ended. I’m feeling bereft. I hoped for more and hungry for a more satisfactory outcome – for everyone. I feel like there’s a lot more to know about Nik’s father and the woman who left him at school when he was five years old. The identity of the sniper who shot Sol and the process by which they found out was convenient – too convenient. What ever happened to Mace? I want to know who was the inside help when the school was bombed. I also found the political divisions to be a bit difficult to grasp. Overall, the violence and the successions of horrific incidents described in this book overshadowed my full appreciation for the writer’s instrinsic talents.

I therefore conclude that books about war is not for me.