________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 8 . . . . October 23, 2015



Kate Blair.
Toronto, ON: Dancing Cat Books/Cormorant Books, 2015.
194 pp., trade pbk. & html, $14.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-77086-454-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77086-455-9 (html).

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Laura Dunford.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



It was dumb to come here. I thought I could walk around for a while and keep an eye out for Tig. I thought I could ask people where Jack used to live, pretend I was a friend. But I stand out too much. And I'm going to catch something here.

Men whistle at me as I go by.

"Oooh," one coos, "fancy lady." There's a hand on my bottom. I spin around, but there are too many people behind me. It could be any one of them.

There must be another way to find the girl, a safer way. There's another crate here, a step out of this nightmarish market. I slip in my haste to get out. Where's the exit? I've been spun around, I don't know which way is south. I'm hemmed in on all sides by the graffiti-strewn walls of the estate, by the foggy rain, by the people and the smell of sweat, the sour scent of alcohol on breath, their broken-teeth leers and dirty hands. The air here is a miasma of germs.

My breath comes hard now. My gaze swings from person to person. They're too close, coughing and sniffing, criminals I'd cross the road to avoid. Killers, like Thomas Bryce.

Talia Hale is the 16-year-old daughter of a Prime Ministerial Candidate in this dystopian vision of modern-day London, England. In this alternate reality, criminals are sentenced to diseases and exiled to an inner-city slum where they live in desperate poverty. Living the privileged life of the upper class, Talia has been largely shielded from the reality of the conditions these criminals and their families live in, and she supports her father's strong stance on crime. Everything in her life is about to change.

      Transferral contains all of the standard elements of a dystopian YA novel: corrupt government forces, propaganda, and the isolation and exploitation of a segment of the population by the ruling class. What Kate Blair brings to the table is her take on the use of disease as a stigma. While certain diseases and conditions carry social stigma in the real world, in Transferral, it carries with it evidence of guilt. A runny nose can cost someone their job and alienate them from society.

      Blair is able to explore the ramifications of domestic biological warfare and make it appealing to a young audience by adding parental conflict, romance, suspense and a striking contrast between the clinical world of privilege and the gritty, desolate landscape of the criminal community. In Transferral, Blair subtly captures her audience with the ingenuity of her dystopian vision and then sweeps readers away as she raises the stakes again and again. As the novel approaches its climax, readers will find themselves madly flipping pages to find out the fate of a nation.

Highly Recommended.

Laura Dunford is a graduate of the Master of Arts in Children's Literature program at the University of British Columbia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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