In Bo Mitchell's country town, a 'White Night' light-show event has the potential to raise vital funds to save the skate park. And out of town, a girl from a secretive off-the-grid community called Garden of Eden has the potential to change the way Bo sees the world. But are there too many secrets in Eden?
As Bo is drawn away from his friends and towards Rory, he gradually comes to believe that Eden may not be utopia after all, and that their group leader's goal to go off the grid may be more permanent - and more dangerous - than anyone could have predicted.
A wonderfully compelling novel from the acclaimed author of the Every series.
'Gutsy characters, a cracking plot, and the perfect amount of swoon - everything Ellie Marney does best.' Vikki Wakefield
Ellie's books are published in eleven countries and have been optioned for television. She’s spent a lifetime researching in mortuaries, talking to autopsy specialists, and asking former spies how to make explosives from household items, and now she lives quite sedately in south-eastern Australia with her family.
Find Ellie's newsletter sign-ups at her website, and catch her @elliemarney on socials or @elliemarneyauthor on Tiktok.
G'day and welcome to the town of Lamistead Victoria, where everyone knows your business and doesn't mind a gander in your windows. There's not much to do in Lamistead for sixteen year old knockabout kid Bo, footy, school, hanging round the soon to be demolished skate park. And no cooking. Definitely no cooking. Bo just wants to make his old man proud, a hard ask with all those bloody rules, the tough old bastard.
Just outside of town, the locals will have a yarn, there's a place where all the tree huggers live called Eden. No one knows what's going on in Eden but most will tell you there's a roo loose in the top paddock. Including that tough old bastard. So when Rory Wild rocks up at school one day with her hairy pits and getaway sticks, she's a punching bag for the halfwits of Lamistead.
Naturally Bo has got the hots for Rory and not just for her hairy pins. If that was the case I'd have to beat them off with a stick. This chick is smart and doesn't think Bo's a dickhead. Bonus. Starting out as mates, I loved those kiddos. Rory gave Bo the guts to want more than bring a local frothy drinking footy player and even though his dad'll be devo, he wants a cook tucker. Rory learns what a wasteful pack of mongrels Lamistead is until Bo adopts the recycling lifestyle, even giving his mates a serve for being wasteful.
Eden isn't the great unwashed that the pricks of Lamistead want you to think, it's a whole village of veggoes growing their own carrots and saving the planet. Probably should have called it Flatulence Town just quietly. The message at the heart of Eden is getting your hand off it and taking care of your own back paddock. Grown your own tucker and reuse shit you have laying round the house. We might not all want to be Greenies, live in a commune and meditate but we need to pitch in before this world goes down the gurgler. Whip up an Eden in your own back paddock and teach your ankle biters the value of reusing and recycling.
I'm always banging on about Aussie authors because let's face it, they're grouse and Ellie Marney is the top chick of Aussie authors. Let me tell you a bit about my mate Marno, she's a fair dinkum Aussie legend, she's a hard working mum living out in the sticks and raising a group of ankle biters. She knows her shit. She writes no bullshit books with heart and White Night is a bloody ripper. She's a beaut mate.
So this was slow to begin with, but soon enough I got drawn into the mystery and the cult and the cinnamon roll Bo and his intrigue with Rory and her radical beliefs with environmentalism. Also the family actually has an impact in his life and I LOVED that about the book. And it features platonic friendships. Could not recommend more.
Gently, calmly and quietly, White Night lures you in with a false sense of security and before you know it, you’re hooked. From the mystery surrounding the idyllic community of Eden, to Bo’s parents and their secrets, there’s a lot to unpack while reading this intriguing mystery about family and cults.
The novel takes its time setting the scene, of the country town of Lamistead and its tight knit small town community. Bo is a nice, sporty guy who likes chilling with his co-ed friendship group and has a great relationship with both of his parents. I liked how his family played a huge part in his life as a teen – so many books don’t bother to explore the impact of adults on teenagers, instead cutting them out of the story, but Bo’s life revolved around his family and his friends. From the chores that he has to do, to how his mum and dad’s relationship affects him, to wanting to help out with his family and looking after his younger brother, I really enjoyed the family dynamics here. But it didn’t feel like that that perfect YA family either – there were a lot of secrets, lies, strict rules and curfews, and the family is put under strain throughout the book.
When Bo meets the New Girl Rory, who he’s never heard of, that’s when things go out the window with his family especially when all he does is want to spend time with her. I could see the appeal when it came to Rory, especially being from a small town where everyone knows each other’s business. Her radical philosophy when it comes to environmentalism and minimising the carbon footprint was fascinating, reflecting the attitudes of the extremist community she lives in. But the most fascinating thing about her, is her attitude – she doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, she cares about her education having worked hard to get it, and she’s not afraid to be herself. Even though she’s bullied and teased for being different, she still doesn’t shy away from it and I found that empowering.
Being a teenage boy, Bo doesn’t have his life sorted out either, so when someone enters his life who seems so sure and confident in who she is, he’s drawn to it. I loved the influence of his friends and his teachers on him as well – they provided a support network for him to figure out what he wants in life. There were many great platonic friendships that ebbed and flowed accordingly to what they were going through. The book also displayed some thought-provoking lessons in class as well, and showed that even teachers aren’t without flaws. Every character just felt so real.
What about the Garden of Eden? Having drawn from her own experiences living in a similar community, Ellie Marney makes it sound so convincing. From Bo’s first experience with them and really coming to appreciate how they all pitch in for the sake of each other, I actually could see why it was so convincing. From it’s rural huts, to the organic foods and the bonfires and smiling faces, gosh this community seemed so welcoming. Not only could I see Bo getting drawn in to their philosophy and their ways of living, but I could even see myself wanting to live there as well! That’s a testament to how convincing this off-the-grid rural community was and I really wanted to see the mystery of it unfolding.
Family, friends, community engagement and environmentalism – White Night explores many important themes in a teenager’s life. I adored the family dynamics, strong friendships but also the flawed relationships that made everything feel more real. The off-the-grid community of Eden was definitely fascinating and I loved watching the mystery unravel – both with the community and with Bo’s family. This is a #LoveOzYA book that I absolutely recommend for its compelling mysteries, excellent family dynamics and fantastic male point of view.
I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Trigger warnings: bullying, assault, mention of domestic violence, terminal illness,
26/11/2020 On reread, I'm bumping this down to 4.5 stars just because there's a LOT happens in the last...75??...pages of the book. So while I still love the characters and the plot and the sense of creepiness, there definitely could have been less of the going to class stuff in the first half to make space for more of the fast paced action stuff in the second half. But, like, 2020 Me is super picky and kind of a bitch, so who know what I'll think next time I read it...
24/2/2018 I've been dying to get my hands on this book ever since Ellie announced it last year. I didn't care what it was about, I didn't care how much it cost, I was going to buy it regardless. And then when the blurb came out, my excitement only grew.
And this did NOT disappoint at all.
I devoured the first hundred pages on my half hour tram ride home from the launch last night. And I sped through the rest of it in about an hour and a half this afternoon. Basically? I was HOOKED from start to finish.
I loved Bo as a protagonist. I loved his friends and their dynamic. I adored his family and how present they were in the story. I loved Rory and her constant awe at the world. The writing is phenomenal. The small town setting was wonderful. The story is great. The relationship between Bo and Rory is wonderful (also, can we talk about the fact that we have a YA book with a love interest who doesn't shave her legs or underarms? YAAAAAAAAAAS) and I loved it. I also absolutely ADORED the dynamic between Sprog and Cam. Like, a LOT.
Basically? This was wonderful from start to finish and I loved everything about it. *insert heart eyes emoji here* Okay bye
Provided by the State Library Victoria as part of the Inky Awards.
White Night is a book set in Australia’s country in a town called Lamistead, where there is nothing much to life for Bodeen(Bo) Mitchell until he meets Rory Wild, the new girl at his high school. It’s certainly not like I’ve never read a start of a book like this before am I right? Anyway, Rory is from this place a bit away from town called the Garden of Eden where they are trying to reduce their carbon footprint to zero, and instead of being a normal environment group, they seem more like a cult following. I mean, the leader of the group(or rather not the leader), Ray thinks it would be good if humans simply died out and actually has no care for the rest of the world and thinks everything is bonkers, including western medicine and technology.
There are quite a few positive things in this novel, like the chemistry between the characters and also the message it gives, but also negative things like a very slow plot progression and lack of things happening. While the title is White Night, we don’t learn what it is until later on, like three quarters of the way through, and while it is one of the issues, other things like the cult following of environmentalists seemed like bigger issues compared to raising money for a skate park which is what the whole White Night thing was.
Much of the book is focused on love and trust, in both family and friends. When Bo’s dad reveals that he has a secret son and goes up to Brisbane, it would appear that their family was torn apart, tough it was overly predictable that they would be fine and that there would be some explanation to it. In fact, much of the book felt too predictable. When the humanities teacher was explaining about the whole cult thing, and even before that. There was a lot of foreshadowing and things that was very predictable and in a way, I’m being able to see future outcomes, like predicting how the entire story would end was, not sad, but rather annoying.
Anyways, the friendship between Cam, Bo, Sprog and Lozzie was nice enough and it felt genuine at least, so the writing didn’t feel fake there. At the very least, they are all very supportive and all look out for each other. Even Shandy, was is I guess the school bully redeems herself in the end, though that somehow didn’t fell like her character as she was too nice, but hey, maybe she realised that people need help sometimes. The romance was fine, though, like in a large number of YA books nowadays, it feels more like hormonal urge, compared to genuine attraction, but I suppose who am I to judge. Though again, asking your parents about love a few weeks after your met sounds a lot like teenage hormones than true love.
The story like I mentioned above, doesn’t get anywhere and while a lot of plot openers are given at the start of the book, not too much to happens and is more trying to deal with the issues, talking and a bit of repetition going on. The ending also felt rushed and not exactly satisfying, I would have liked to see another chapter where things could have been wrapped up a bit better compared to what I got, as it felt too abrupt.
I didn’t go into this book expecting too much and I left the same way, so while it met my expectations of it being an average book, it did no means surpass it. There are interesting thoughts and concepts explored, a load of family and friendship issues and a title that was mentioned until the book was almost over. 6/10
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I loved Bo, our brave but very modest hero. He is a genuine, raw and emotional hero. Bo has a difficult relationship with his father, he tries so hard to please him but it is a tough job, his Dad is volatile and unpredictable. His mum is in the final months of pregnancy, it is the middle of a typical Australian summer, everyone is becoming short tempered from the heat. Bo has to make decisions about his subjects and pressure seems to be coming from everywhere. Bo lives in Lamistead where everyone knows your family and your history and it is tough to escape.
On the outskirts of town there are a bunch of outsiders living in the busy in an alternative community, strangers aren't welcomed in there but suddenly one of the young women from the commune turns up at school. She is Rory and she is in Bo's class and he is fascinated by this girl who doesn't behave in any kind of expected way and with whom he begins riding to school with. And with this a gentle friendship and then romance is born. This will not be easy, there are rumours, the council is about to get rid of the only fun thing for the teens in town and Bo's family is about to receive a massive shock.
In this lovely book you find layers and layers of story, carefully built and crafted. This is an author who knows how to write young people. Her books are very popular at my school and I can totally see why. This is a must have for any school library in Australia or NZ.
Like all Ellie Marney’s novels this was a deftly woven story with complex engaging characters, non-stereotypical family dynamics and deeply relatable relationships. White Night sees Bo facing difficult future choices at school, upheaval at home and a magnetic attraction to Rory and her life in the alternative Eden community. Action, intrigue & heart-pounding feels aplenty. Loved it.
I was excited when this book landed at my local bookshop. Anything new from Ellie Marney is always going to be good, but this is great. Still set in rural Australia, in the fictional town of Lamistead, this is a terrific YA realist novel with a message that doesn't beat you around the head. Bo is approaching the end of his schooling and trying to decide whether to follow his gut and study subjects that will lead to him becoming a chef, or stay with what is expected and focus on sports and things his Dad will approve of. New girl Rory comes into his life, after being home-schooled forever, and everything gets turned on its head. Not only has Bo fallen hard for Rory, she lives in a community called Eden, which is about saving the planet - and Bo find himself drawn to their message (and Rory). Toss in a family secret that has Bo doubting everything he thought he knew about his parents, a friend going through a rough time at home at the hands of an abusive parent and sibling, and the imminent closure of the local skatepark, and you have the ingredients for an engaging and involving novel that hits all the right notes. The developing relationship between Bo and Rory is believable and sweet, and all the bit players like Sprog, Lozzie and Cam are terrific too. I wrote about this novel as a classic example of YA realism for a Uni essay this year and got 95%. Need I say more! Read it - you won't be sorry.
What a perfect book, so much so that I read it in one sitting! It deals with so many issues within society today: illness, bullying, family conflicts, homosexuality and a segregated community (I suppose that’s a little less common but it is still present in Amish communities etc). I love how it was told by a male protagonist as SO many female authors tend to write in female first person narrative.
The plot was well organised and all various parts intertwined. The characters were well rounded (while there were no physical descriptions, you could use your imagination to bring them to life through their strong personalities). I love books written about small country towns, as a reader you are more able to relate to the setting and story as a whole.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the friendship blossom between the two main characters despite their differences. The tensions within the families were also relatable to every day life and made it more raw. Every different sub plot came together to create the over arching plot in a well constructed way.
I really enjoy this authors work. I think she captures contemporary rural and small town living beautifully. Bo is such a great character and is up against it with his parents experiencing troubles, trying to raise finds for a local skate park for the community’s youth and also drifting away from his friends and closer to Rory. A girl who has secrets and problems of her own.
I was completely engrossed in Bo’s journey and how the author tackled emotional growth, moving from being a child to an adult and also the romantic elements. I love this authors work. I think she captures that YA feel in her books perfectly and she also has great diversity in her characters and experiences. If you enjoy this standalone, I highly recommend her Every series and also No Limits, which was one of my favourite reads of 2017.
One of the most outstanding things Marney has done with White Night is to make the storyline involving Rory and the commune seem so “next door”. I wanted to move there! You knew from the outset something creepy was bound to happen, but even then you had to second guess yourself as you watched Bo gravitate towards Eden for very practical reasons. All the twists were plausible which made this quite a disturbing read, in a good way
Realistically, it's more my fault than the book's for a DNF. I was reading this in exam period as my break between studying, but I just can't give it the attention it deserves. Plus, even though it's not a bad book, it was still kinda building up to the major conflict of the plot- in nearly 150 pages, nothing really interesting had happened besides some minor friendship dramas. I found myself losing interest every time I set the novel down, and unfortunately I don't have the motivation to finish it at this stage. Perhaps I'll pick it up again at some point in the future, but for now, we'll be parting ways.
I can totally see why this was nominated for awards. Great teenage voices, strong adult supporting roles and plenty of action that will feel real to teen readers. There is a definite Australian feel but readers in NZ will also be able to relate. Bo has a lot happening in his life: he's trying to decide on school subjects that might lead him a new direction, his mother is pregnant, his father has secrets, Bo's friends have things going on at home and he is falling for a new girl at school who lives in a local commune. Bo is a great character and one that most readers will readily empathise with. Highly recommended for secondary school libraries.
White Night started off a little slowly for me. I'm not sure if that was the story, or I was just so busy with life that I didn't have a lot of time to sit and read. But then at about a third of the way in things really picked up and I was so hooked. Ellie Marney writes characters that are impossible not to become invested in and you become swept along in their journey. She's such a vivid storyteller. I've loved everything I've read of hers so far, and really look forward to the next one!
I was excited when this came in at work. While I enjoyed elements of the book; Ellie's excellent descriptions of human attraction and the follies of rural youth, the off the grid community's storyline really irked me.
This book totally found its way under my skin. I was thinking about it all the time when I wasn’t reading, and I had ideas about where the story was going and was supremely worried for the characters.
Bo has a lot on his mind, between footy, the end of high school and crisis in his family that his parents aren’t talking about. When Rory, a girl from the local off-the-grid commune, begins attending his high school and he finds himself drawn into her way of life.
One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve started reading Ellie Marney’s books this year is that she has the ability to really capture the Australian experience of being a young adult. These aren’t just teenagers that could be lifted out of her book and transplanted somewhere else. These are very definitely Australian teenagers. This is an Australian small town. There’s just something about the descriptions and the way the characters speak that wouldn’t work anywhere else.
I loved Bo’s character development and Rory’s. Their romance is affected by things like Rory not having access to a phone, and it was interesting to see that explored. Bo’s wider friendship circle is also great; everyone felt real. Sprog in particular has a great arc that’s central to the plot.
The off-the-grid community was also well-written. I liked that it wasn’t presented as a crazy cult from the get-go, and that the majority of people living there genuinely wanted to do something good for the world. A sense of unease begins to develop and by the last fifty pages, I couldn’t have put the book down even if I had wanted to. The only reason I knocked off half a star was because I did feel that sometimes the speeches given by Ray, the sort-of-head of the commune, were often a bit info-dumpy. They served a purpose but I did find myself skimming them a bit.
---- This review is part of my 2018 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.
Unlike anything I have ever read. An interesting gripping take on the power of persuasion and the ability to follow and be led. I would give this book 5 stars for uniqueness but still an overall 3 just for my personal opinion after reading it. I didn’t hate it nor did I love any of it really. It was different and interesting and I found the way it was presented was genius. You fall into a daze with Rory, trying to figure out what she’s about. You sympathize with her cause and start to agree with ways and the appeal of her life on the commune as you should. Until you come to where everything turns into fuzz and you can’t differentiate your own thoughts anymore. Rory’s life in itself was an experiment, born and raised in a commune. Her only rebellion is her desire to go to high school where she meets Bo, the only person willing to even take her seriously. Their relationship escalates and Bo finds himself wrapped even further into her world that what he’s comfortable with. When the community and Rory’s life are about to change forever things escalate quickly. Very gripping page turning finish.
This book was very quiet and innocent until it decided to creep up on me and smacked me right in the face. WAM BAM THANK YOU MA'AM! Seriously though, this book was phenomenal. A very character driven story, however I felt so invested in the story. I loved all the real-world/sociological discussion in this book and appreciated that this was an Australian book that encapsulated the Australian culture perfectly *cheers* The blurb itself didn't immediately capture my interest but I am so glad I didn't let this get away. Why didn't I read this sooner?
Is it weird that I cared more about the family dynamics in this story over the cult life? 🤔 Not that the off-the-grid community life wasn't fascinating, I just think it's a testament to how well she wrote those characters - everyone and everything is a little messy. It's also not often that I read a book from a male perspective that has emotional weight to it; very refreshing.
I love Ellie's writing and how her characters feel so real. I loved every character in this book, everyone was so relatable. I did find it quite slow pacing to begin with, and had guessed about the whole cult thing quite early on. BUT... I did learn a lot about sustainability and Jonestown from reading this. For so long I wondered why the book was called "White Night", and now I know. Two very different meanings behind that title!
I absolutely adore the Every Breath series, this didn't live up to that but it was still an excellent read. And I was not let down by Ellie's usual steamy make out scenes, very nice! I don't know how she made leg warmers so sexy, but she did!!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Wow Ellie has done it again. I just loved this. A strong character driven story told by Bo a teenage boy growing up in rural Vic Australia. It’s a story about family and that point when teens work out their parents don’t alway have their shit together. About how teens start to question the world around them and how they can change it. About how small towns band together for good and how the humble casserole brought over from a neighbour can save the day.
I read the blurb for this book and was super excited to start it. However, within the first few pages I honestly started to struggle with some of the language and terminology that Ellie Marney has chosen to use. Nevertheless, I persisted to see how it would progress and I'm so glad that I did.
Bo is your typical 16 year old country boy. He plays sports, helps his parents out at home, and is popular enough at school. Then Rory starts at school. She lives at the local commune and is very different to the other girls. Bo is the only one at school who gives her a chance. As long held family secrets are revealed, Bo feels like his life is falling apart and the only person he feels he can confide in is Rory. But is there more to her off-the-grid commune than it appears?
"White Night" is a fantastic look at the meaning of family, friends, trust and love. There are strong environmental themes that run through the book and it actually really made me think, which I think is always a sign of a good book!
One of the things I really appreciated about this book is the relationship between Bo and Rory. Bo respects Rory and never takes advantage of her. These types of relationships are definitely under represented in literature and the more we can show young people that having a respectful partner is possible, the more we will see of it in reality.
I would have scored "White Night" higher if it weren't for a few turns of phrases that really irked me. I also ponder if this will make it difficult to access outside the Australian market.
Ellie has presented us with a great novel that has beautifully in-depth characters, a unique setting and a great plot. Ellie Marney is certainly an Australian author to watch. I look forward to her next endeavour.
Gosh! I couldn’t put this book down! I was fascinated with reading the protagonist being a teenage boy- I just want to say Bo is a sweetheart, if I was 16 again I would want to be his girlfriend. He has good intentions for all his friends and family. As Bo’s family deals with a family crisis he spends more time with new girl Rory who from a secret community called Garden of Eden that group may not be all that ideal as Bo gets to know the group. Thrilling right up to the last page. 👍🏼👍🏼
I am so incredibly lucky to have a friend in Australia who sent me the new Ellie Marney book, as it's not available in the US yet. I love you, K!!
Ellie Marney's writing style and storytelling are so compelling. I read this over the course of a day, and I got so mad every time I had to put it down. The characters are diverse (as expected from an EM book) and so authentically teenagery. Bo is an excellent narrator and his family story was interesting. I loved the Garden of Eden storyline. As awesome and ecological the community is trying to be, there's an air of cult about it, which makes it so much more fascinating. The ending was fairly predictable, but that didn't take away from my reading experience.
Side note: I only had to ask K about two Australian slang words. (Avro means afternoon? WTF 'Straya?!"
Second side note: The cover of this book is fucking phenomenal.
Once again, I'm always in for an Ellie Marney book!!
This is the final book (of four) that I was given by a friend who works as a high school librarian to read over the holidays (and you never ignore the recommendation of librarians). She said the kids seem to really like this book and given that I have been wanting to read Ellie Marney for a while it seemed like a good fit.
Unfortunately, I didn't really like this book at all. There was nothing wrong with it - in fact it was beautifully written and authentic. I just didn't care for the story line or gel with the characters and found it all a little dull and boring (funny how different books call to different people in different ways).
Anyway, bonus points for the setting (Country Victoria). Bonus points for the author (Aussie Author), but I could have done with-out the Garden of Eden aspect .
This has a 4+ star rating, so I am in a minority on this one. That is okay. I do like the writing of Ms Marney though and I am keen to read book 2 of her Every series :-)