Reviews for Bridge

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Set in a dystopian future, orphaned agent-in-training Nik assumes he'll be chosen to help fight the decades-long war against "the other side." When he ends up literally on the other side in search of a kidnapped friend, Nik's newfound understanding of war's complexities causes him to question his assumptions. Despite a too-obvious good/bad dichotomy, this gritty novel's passages about how war affects young people are compelling.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #6
In a gritty novel set in a dystopian future, orphaned agent-in-training Nik thinks he has it all figured out: he will be chosen by the Internal Security and Intelligence Services and help fight the war against "the other side." He will be a willing cog in a decades-long conflict with fuzzy beginnings and a present that is as much propaganda and fear-mongering as an actual strategic plan for victory. When he ends up literally on the other side after crossing a bridge in search of a kidnapped friend, Nik's newfound understanding of the complexities of war, as well as surprising information about his parentage, causes him to question his assumptions, loyalties, and aspirations. While there are hints of romance, family relationships, and larger social commentary throughout, this is primarily a book about war. The author's agenda is overt from the start, with a too-obvious good/bad dichotomy that readers will immediately understand is the same for the other side. Nevertheless, the gritty, painfully tense passages describing the ways in which war affects children -- teens in particular -- are compelling and deftly written. april spisak Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #1
War propels a boy from the privileged side of town across the bridge to the enemy, where he learns the real causes of the war and about his own history. Seventeen-year-old Nik knows only that his parents were killed in an uprising and that he wants to join ISIS, the government security organization most responsible for his city's defense against their enemies from the poor side of the river. Although he attends on a scholarship, he's the most brilliant student in the posh school from which ISIS gets their recruits. When ISIS doesn't choose him, offering no explanation, he sees no future for himself—until a bomb destroys the school and forces Nik and his wealthy friends directly into the war. The enemy kidnaps Sol, the 8-year-old brother of Nik's wealthy friend, so he and Fyffe, Sol's sister, head over the bridge to rescue him. There, they can't avoid teaming up with the enemy, and Nik learns the real causes of the conflict. When the Southsiders discover Nik's real identity, however, he becomes the target of both sides. Higgins taps into current social and class conflicts as fodder for her future war. Nik remarks, "while I wasn't the only brown face in school, I was the only one without back-up." The Southsiders, it turns out, comprise the underclass that rebelled against their wealthy patrons, contrary to the propaganda that Nik has heard all his life. A suspenseful and entertaining debut. (Dystopian adventure. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 September #1

This grim first novel, set on a not-so-distant future Earth in a war-torn, divided city that could be Sarajevo, London, or just about any other metropolis, packs a significant emotional wallop. Nikolai Stais, an orphan, has spent most of his life as a scholarship student at Tornmoor Academy, a prestigious military school designed to produce top security officers. But while Nikolai's senior class peers are snapped up by the Internal Security and Intelligence Services, he is denied cadet status. Soon after, rebels attack the school, and Nikolai is arrested as a traitor, though he quickly escapes. When a younger friend is kidnapped and taken across the river to rebel territory, Nikolai follows, hoping to save him, and instead discovers that the history he's been taught may not be the entire truth. Higgins works hard to expose the religious and racial bigotry lurking behind so many military conflicts, and she is adept at showing that, frequently, neither side is without blame. Nikolai is well drawn and believable, though the story's secondary characters, particularly the villains, are comparatively one-dimensional. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 February

Gr 9 Up--In this dystopian novel from New Zealand, Higgins uses her hero's adventures to ponder larger questions. Nik is a mathematical genius at the top of his class in Tornmoor Academy and, as such, he expects to be invited to join the Internal Security and Intelligence Services. ISIS leads the way in protecting the northern part of the city from the Breken invaders who control the city south of the river. ISIS does not choose Nik and even seeks him for questioning when the school is bombed. Nik's young friend Sol is kidnapped by some Breken in the confusion of a major incursion so Nik and Sol's sister, Fyffe, decide to cross the nearest bridge into Southside to rescue him. They soon discover that most of the Breken are quite different from what they were taught. Members of the Campaign for Free Movement would simply like access to the same food and medicines that those north of the river enjoy, preferably through negotiation. The Remnant faction is more interested in conquest. Nik gradually reveals his identity to a few CFM leaders and learns more about himself from them. When he is ultimately called upon to choose a side in the war, he must decide if either one makes sense. Readers will easily see themselves in Nik, a young man unsure of his place and uncertain of who is in the right. The popularity of dystopias will ensure that this story has appeal, and it will also make readers think.--Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI

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