Review: Detention by Tristan Bancks

9780143791799.jpgA thrilling, heartfelt page-turner enriched by probing social commentary, Detention is essential for opening and fuelling dialogue about the asylum seeker and refugee situation in Australia.

It is 5:28am when Detention begins, and young Afghani girl Sima and her family are pressed to the ground, among a sea of fifty other refugees,  behind the wire fence of the Immigration Transit Accommodation Centre in Midgenba. On the other side of the fence, a protestor is cutting through the fence, wire by wire, determined to free the detainees before they’re forced to return to the homelands they escaped from. Tristan Bancks — author of Two Wolves and The Fall (among others) — infuses these passing seconds with incredible heart-pounding tension, as guards patrol nearby, and her father’s final words to her before they began their breakout reverberate in her mind: “No matter what, you run.”

Finally, the fence is pried open, just enough for the human chain to squeeze through, one by one, perilously slowly, methodically and silently. Then disaster. An alarm starts blaring. Panic erupts. Guards howl. Guns are yanked from holsters. It’s absolute chaos. Sima loses her family, runs for the trees, finds herself on the grounds of a school, hiding in a toilet block as the school goes into lockdown, armed Border Force agents determinedly checking every classroom.  Which is when she is discovered by local Midgenba boy Dan, who needs to decide, quickly, whether to help Sima get away, or thrust her back into the hands of the agents hunting her.

Detention tackles big, important issues without lecturing or talking down to reader. In a world filled with toxic ideologies and divisions, Tristan Bancks shows young people have the courage to rise up and demand equality for all; to fight for human rights and ignore the banal politicising. And its breakneck pace means it’s almost impossible to put down.

ISBN: 9780143791799
Format: Paperback / softback
Pages: 288
Imprint: Puffin
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Publish Date: 2-Jul-2019
Country of Publication: Australia