Advertisement

KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

KYDYAC

KYDYAC – Fortress by Gabrielle Lord

by Stephanie Van Schilt , August 16, 20122 Comments


In the second last (!) KYD YA Championship post, YA writer Alyssa Brugman champions the challenging and compelling Fortress by Gabrielle Lord.

I’m backing Fortress by Gabrielle Lord as one of the most perfect books for YA readers. It’s on my list alongside Flowers in the Attic, Pet Sematary or Magician as a book perfectly crafted for teens, with the perfect match in content.

It’s very easy, as adult readers who have an interest in deciding what is age-appropriate reading, to ‘tut’ and ‘should’ and ‘must’ and ‘never’, but that’s because many adult readers have forgotten about the stages of independent reading that we all went through.

Initially, reading itself is a puzzle. The emerging independent reader, tongue poking out of the corner of their mouth, is still s-o-u-n-d-i-n-g o-u-t the unfamiliar words – running their finger along the sentences structured so unexpectedly. The content can’t afford to be too complex, or the task of reading becomes exhausting.

But once a reader is familiar enough with their construction, words are recognised by shape. The reader uses punctuation as a guide to the pace and manner in which the writer wants the text to be read. Reading then becomes an immersive experience.

The structure of Fortress suits a reader right at this point because it supports this type of immersive reading. The narrative is totally linear, from the abduction of the teacher and students of a school, and the violence and murder in a small country town, through to the stronghold the students and their teacher construct and defend at the end. There are very few variations in point of view. The plot is made up of a series of short does not obstruct the reading experience, making it perfect to consume in one big bite.

Can you remember that? Back when you were only interested in what happened in a book, not what it was about? Back when you were no longer just r-e-a-d-i-n-g t-h-e w-o-r-d-s and instead dove headfirst into the book, resurfacing to find that a whole day had passed? That’s the point at which you realise that anything can happen in a book. Anything! You can be shocked by books, and scared by them. You want to be shocked and scared. That’s when you start to actively seek out the most gruesome, explicit, supernatural, escapist content. Wasn’t it thrilling the first time you realised there were books you simply couldn’t open after dark?

Fortress is such a book. It has satisfyingly grisly bits. It’s not about fitting in, or divorce, or unrequited love. It’s life or death. These characters really have something to complain about. It’s horror-lite. Books like these make lifelong readers with broad tastes.

But even teen readers who are ready to think about what the book is about, as well as what happens, will find a most sympathetic companion in this book. This book is about ambushes; fear; violence; bullies; awkwardly executed plans; a vulnerable, flawed teacher; entrapment; hastily rigged survival gear that would make MacGyver proud; and, finally, a cohesive bond between unlikely allies that saves the day.

Sounds like a typical day in Year 9 to me!

Alyssa Brugman writes full time and lives in the Hunter Valley with her partner, their children and various quadrupeds. She is currently pursuing postgraduate studies at the University of Canberra. Her twelfth novel will be released by Text Publishing in March 2013.

If you want Fortress to win the KYD YA Championship, you can cast your vote for it here! Vote now and you can also go into the draw to win some amazing prizes.




  • Stephanie Van Schilt

    I remember reading Fortress for Year 9 English and loving it. The overt personal drama and constant danger meant that I couldn’t put it down – and I recall far less studious members of my class feeling the same. I recently re-read Fortress for this Championship and was struck by how easily it hit the right beats, with its use of violence and suspense, to keep you turning the page. As Alyssa mentions, it was perfect for my racing attention span – I was absorbed as a teen and found it a great, quick read to this day.

    In hindsight, I also find it incredibly interesting that Fortress is one of the books on our KYDYAC list that is deemed ‘contentious’, straddling the boundaries between adult and YA fiction – as noted, the National Library of Australia lists its readership as both ‘Juvenile’ and ‘Adult’ (http://www.killyourdarlingsjournal.com/wp/2012/07/what-does-ya-mean-to-you-a-discussion-about-definition/). Upon re-reading I did notice that Sally (the teacher) is quite young and she is definitely trying to find her way in the adult world. I think this, combined with the students – from young children to teens – showing their strength, demonstrates the ‘in between’ phase that is a YA staple. It is this transitional phase that so often appeals to YA readers too. The scenario presented to Sally provides the impetus for her rite of passage, and by the end of the book she has conquered many of her own demons, as well as the intense plot driving forces. At the same time, the students play an integral part in her development, and the thematic importance of teamwork and education, as well as the complicated nature of the human condition, is prevalent.

  • Estelle Tang

    I haven’t read Fortress, but I found it so fascinating too that this was a book that more than one contributor mentioned wanted to cover. So it must have reached many young readers, but was also written for adults to enjoy.

    When I think about the books I was reading as a young reader, the adult books I’d read were usually classics and genre books. I read lots of fantasy and sci-fi stuff, maybe because it was a continuation of the genre of children’s books I liked to read, but also, like you say, because the fantasy series I used to like to read dealt with transitional phases and calls to action.

    Can I borrow Fortress from you? Thanks!

9781863957120

James Tierney

Dissonance and Tradition: Andrew Ford’s Earth Dances

Earth Dances: Music in Search of the Primitive is a vivid and rarely less than astute history of the debt modern music simultaneously owes to the inheritances of tradition, and the texture of dissonance. Read more »

monroe

James Tierney

Survival and Contradiction: Jacqueline Rose’s Women in Dark Times

This book’s most impressive trick is in the way it pulls together seemingly disparate figures. In this fierce, insightful and wide-ranging collection, Jacqueline Rose calls for nothing less than a reformulation of feminism. Read more »

Clive-James-typical-mix-o-014

Cosima McGrath

The Unreliable Truth of Clive James

Some authors hermit themselves away and are unknowable to the public except through their writing. Clive James, on the other hand, carries his own spotlight. Read more »

article-2301242-18FA52E4000005DC-314_470x763

Rebecca Shaw

An Inconvenient Truth: Social stigma and menstruation

If you have heard of menstruation, you would know that it is an essential process in a little tiny thing called the EXISTENCE AND CONTINUATION OF HUMAN LIFE, and it is something that most (not all) women experience for about five days every month for a large part of their lives. It is a topic (besides shopping, lol) that women think about frequently. Read more »

fx-2015-winter-tcajpeg-069cb_c0-146-3500-2186_s561x327

Rebecca Shaw

Billy, Don’t Be a Homophobe

As a non-heterosexual person who has lived my entire life in a heteronormative world, I have a finely tuned antenna for homophobia. Loaded terms, like those used recently by Billy Crystal, are becoming more common, as it becomes less acceptable to state openly that you get an icky feeling when you see two people of the same sex kiss. Read more »

B5QJwMhIYAAfjxG

Rebecca Shaw

A Tale of Two Penises: Double Dick Dude and the invisibility of male bisexuality

For the past year I have found myself fascinated by penises. If I’d been to the races, I would have created a monstrous dick fascinator to wear as a beautiful physical representation of my mental state. But let me be clear, I have not been captivated with all or even many penises. My fascination has solely been aimed at the two penises owned by the man known only as ‘Diphallic Dude’, or more casually ‘DoubleDickDude’. Read more »

girlwalkshomealoneatnight

Anwen Crawford

Bad Cities

A Most Violent Year has an atmosphere of all-pervading dread, like a film noir, as if the polluted air of New York itself was causing people to act against their better intentions. Even more haunting and more noir is A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, a memorably audacious debut feature from American-Iranian director Ana Lily Amirpour. Read more »

cdn.indiewire

Kate Middleton

On the Trail: Wild and the voyage of the modern woman

Strayed articulates the question that drives so many pilgrimage narratives: ‘What if I forgive myself?’ That same question perhaps suggests why female-driven journeys are resonating with audiences now: self-reliance and the abandonment of a conventional life have long been male-dominated themes. Read more »

Film Review Selma

Anwen Crawford

An Urgent and Motivating Anger: The politics of Selma

How to approach a figure with the reputation of a secular saint? One achievement of Selma – and it is a film of many achievements – is to reanimate King as a living, breathing man; a man of politics, strategy, and absolute, underlying resolve. Read more »

video-undefined-22D54AFA00000578-784_636x358

Matilda Dixon-Smith

Insufferable assholes and grown up Girls

Yes, our girls are growing, learning, discovering. But all they’re really discovering is how toxic and unheroic they are, and how to use that to their advantage. They’re not going to grow out of their asshole tendencies, because they are actually assholes. Read more »

agent-carter-7683

Danielle Binks

Agent Carter and the future of the female superhero

Agent Carter has been described ‘a Triumph for Women, Marvel and TV,’ and heralded as an important new chapter in comics culture. If this supposedly groundbreaking new show fails, does it spell doom for the future of female-led superhero franchises? Read more »

39154_4f8f076801b89b442752af76ac226fc0

Anwen Crawford

Satire and Scandal: Revisiting Frontline

Frontline’s makers could not have anticipated the long, web-based afterlife of their creation, though they might not be surprised that their targets – the rampant egotism and moral hypocrisies of tabloid journalism – remain just as current. Read more »

ss_f6a450fbf737eb04c58b973f72e8817bb2b50285.600x338

Katie Williams

Brain Candy: Are game jams diluting the potential of video games?

In a world where YouTube gameplay videos narrated by hollering amateurs hold as much clout – if not more – than professional game critics, I worry that developers may be swayed to choose an easier, unimaginative, and more vacuous path to success. Read more »

cher_horowitz_closet-010_2

Katie Williams

Fashion Forward: How hidden algorithms are dressing up technology

Though we increasingly rely on technology to simplify our lives, we still want to believe that behind the scenes is a happy, human face, rather than an impassive machine that does the dirty work for us. Read more »

wowx5-artwork-012-full

Katie Williams

Killing Monsters and Making Memories: How virtual worlds facilitate communication

When I hang out with my brother, we joke, make fun of each other, and swap stories about mutual friends. Sometimes, we’ll each pack a bag of stat-enhancing potions and go out to kill large monsters. It’s been well over a year since I saw my brother in the flesh – but thanks to World of Warcraft, I interact with him on a daily basis. Read more »

Before Us_3

Jane Howard

Stuart Bowden’s Unfamiliar, Universal Worlds

It’s hard to classify the work of Stuart Bowden. His one-person storytelling theatre works are at once hilarious and melancholy. They exist in a particular space of fringe theatre: intricately crafted stories built for small rooms & small audiences, they lift and rise that audience, gathering us all up in the magic of stories & the closeness they can breed. Read more »

The-Rabbits-2015-1280x470

Jane Howard

Thinking Outside the Box Seats: The future of Australian opera and musical theatre

If we want to see new work and innovation grow in opera and musical theatre, we need to consider how they might develop within our culture. Read more »

MovingMusicAndreCastellucci1

Jane Howard

The (Sometimes) Beauty of Being Alone at the Theatre

I often go to the theatre on my own. One of the great joys of writing reviews is that even when I attend productions solo, I still get to talk (write) about them at length after the fact. Seeing theatre is a wonderful activity to do unaccompanied, because as soon as the performance starts, everyone is alone in some way. Read more »