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  Devastation Road by Joanna Baker

Review by: Hannah D.
Other, Grade 7

‘Devastation road,’ by Joanna Baker, is the book I have chosen for my book review. Published in2004 by Thomas C. Lothian Pty Ltd in South Melbourne, Australia. It is a senior fiction mystery novel with a dark twist.
The book is set in a country town called Allandale, In South Australia. The main scenes in which the book is set is ‘Devastation Road, Chess’s house, messy, but with a homely feel and the general Allandale town, the park near and the bridge, the ‘Allie Bakery’, the church and many other country scenes.
The main character is Matthew Tingle. He has longish hair, and ears that stick out. He thinks he’s good at figuring out what people are thinking, but finds out it can be hard. He see’s the best in everyone, which is probably his weak spot. His mother, a caring woman who sometimes wants to control everything, and his father who spends most of his time in the pottery shed contemplating the world.
The next character is Chess (Jessie). She is an old friend of Matts, she’s called ‘Chess’ because she turns everything into a puzzle, and like a chess board she uses her logic to sort out the problems. She is skinny and doesn’t care what everyone thinks of her. She is very intelligent, but most people find her a bit strange. She’s described as a ‘virus’ and she’s not the person to hang round with. Her Father is Alec, and her Mother unknown.
Tara is the silent beauty, she has long dark rippling hair, light blue eyes, opposite of Chess, she takes care of her appearance. She is very cunning and smart like Chess, except she doesn’t turn everything into a puzzle. She hardly shows any emotion what so ever, which helps her keep a dark secret, which will blow up at the end. She is cousins with Wando, she has a mother and a father. She is also very rich.
Next is Wando. He is tall, well built and strong, with thick arms and legs, but no real muscles. He has a big jaw but apart from that his features are small and soft. He’s kind, but easily scared. He is cousins with Tara, and has a mother and father
Finally there’s Debbie. She is tiny girl, twenty two, with satin like skin and honey-coloured hair that curled around sweetly. Her personality is nothing like her appearance, she acts more bulky and boyish then she looks. Her brother, Craig, is a thought to be madman, her mother is Annie.

Devastation Road is a story of piecing together a puzzle, and figuring out a web of deception and lies. Matthew Tingle is caught in a suspicious fire in his small country town, Allandale. A few questions are hard for Matt to comprehend. Who lit the fire? And why did they light it? And who was the strangely familiar man that had saved him from the fire? But most importantly what clue was left that would help him later on? When the almost enemy-less Debbie is found dead by Matt, Chess, Matts slightly strange friend, and the beautiful Tara, who Matt has liked for ages, a day after claiming to know three secrets, Matts world is thrown into a spin, how could Debbie have fallen in to the water, and drowned when the water was so shallow, but was it an accident? As things start to unravel Matt and Chess uncover a whole heap of secrets that they never thought they would find out, and at what cost? What does have to do with the girl that died more then 7 years ago down Devastation Road? Not only will they uncover the truth, but they will throw themselves into a danger that may just be the last thing they do. This book catches you off guard, just when you think you’ve figured it out, something comes up that changes you’re mind. A twist at the end that you will never expect!

I really enjoyed this book; I love murder mysteries and deception. I think I would have connected better if the book was about a girl, but that’s probably the same with everyone depending on their gender. I found that in the middle it dragged on a bit, and could have been a lot shorter. My favourite part was when Matt found out who the murderer was, and the way Joanna described that murderers face and way. My favourite character was definitely Tara, as she was so interesting, especially how you couldn’t figure out what was happening in her head. I think this book is suitable for people aged between 12 and 16, in particular people in for a different type of mystery.

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