• NZ Booklovers

Neands 2 by Dan Salmon

It’s about time that we had a cracking good read about Neanderthals returning to our current world. They were such an intriguing bunch of humanoids. We all learn about them, and we all have some knowledge of their existence - but for most that is where the understanding ends. But what if they came back? What if there was a way to change our DNA to enact a little more like theirs? Such a great premise, and the world Salmon so deftly established in ‘Neands’ is returned to in the follow up depicting a scenario where Neanderthals have the ability to, once again, walk among us.

Neands 2 begins almost where the first book leaves the reader. The group are in a sense of safety - but not for long. Diving headlong into the world of science fiction dystopia, Salmon displays a tangible world that is equally recogniseable and foreign all at the same time. One can imagine the way these characters must have taken a life of their own inside the creative mind of Salmon.

Our main characters are back: Charlie, Pru, and Ivy. This time they are tracking down parents and friend, all while trying to escape the torture of the Neand-run boarding hostel. An eventuality none of them want to even begin to consider.

Salmon’s real gift is the ability to create meaningful dialogue between the characters. One has an immersive experience in the world he has created through Neands and Neands 2. The narrative rises and falls through the short chapters, making you want to read more and find out what will become of our main characters.

It’s clear that Salmon has skill in directing and screenwriting - the books are clearly only the first part in a cinematographic offering. Such is the style of the writing that it just lends itself so easily to a film version of the plot. And one that is sure to be a success.

There are others who are yet to be affected by the virus, the question is: can the trio connect with them before it’s too late?

Overall, this was such a fantastic book. It was one where, despite the length, it was hard to stop reading late into the night. The ‘one more chapter-itis’ crept in early on, such is the immersive quality of the writing. A highly recommended foray into the world of science fiction written in, by and for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

One Tree House