If you were told what your future would hold, would you let it govern the decisions that you made? How much of prophecy is self-fulfilling? These questions and more make up the beautifully woven story of the novel The Predictions by New Zealand author Bianca Zander. Recently I was invited to the launch party of this particular book and I was absolutely gutted that I couldn’t make it. I’d just finished reading it and I would have treasured the opportunity to tell Ms Zander what a fantastic book she had written.
The Predicitions is a novel that starts at the Gaialands commune in the idyllic Coromandel, where a group of children are being raised free-range by all the adult members. The protagonist, fifteen-year-old Poppy, starts falling for sixteen-year-old Lukas, who is becoming increasingly cynical at the way that Gaialands functions. At this critical juncture, the somewhat mysterious Shakti arrives at the commune and is convinced that the way to heal the energy of Gaialands is to perform a ceremony of prophecy, showing the younger members of the commune their future destiny. The story follows Poppy from 1978 to 1989, from the commune as she follows Lukas to Auckland and then to London. She finds a life much like the one that the charismatic Shakti predicted, but is it the right life for her?
I love how gritty and real Ms Zander makes her characters. Not a single one of her characters is blemish-free and their flaws run the gamut of the human condition. Shakti as a character makes me feel horribly uncomfortable; the characterisation is absolutely superb, slowly leaking details that don’t give us the full picture until right at the very end. Both Poppy and Lukas are deliciously imperfect as well, a great change from the usual Prince Charming fairy-tale love story.
I’m not going to deny I love the New Zealand flavour of this novel. From the bucolic paradise of the Coromandel to the slummy inner-city squats, the scenes will be something that many New Zealanders can relate to. Many of the political issues the characters speak to directly concerned the left element of the New Zealand voting public in the eighties. Yet the book does not come across at all as parochial and many of the issues remain relevant and contemporary.
I’d recommend this novel for people midteens and up, due to some of the more explicit content in the novel, and could be equally enjoyed by both male and female readers. While I think this would be an amazing read at any time, I can see this as being a perfect summer read for mums- something real and flavoursome amongst the saccharine-sweet chick lit novels that you might read at the bach or while enjoying a family day at the beach. Just make sure that you’ve got someone there to look after the kids because you aren’t going to want to put this novel down!