'Life is difficult enough for Brenton. He can't get on with his parents, his younger brother is overtaking him in every way and now twelve-year-old Victoria must come and live with them too.
This turbulent, powerful novel follows Brenton as he loses himself in his beloved role playing games where the fantasy dangerously shadows real life'.
Source: author's website.
This chapter explores apocalypse in children's literature with reference to literary attitudes to children, nature and dystopia. Examinations of works by Lee Harding, Victor Kelleher, and John Marsden then focus on how these writers adapt apocalyptic themes for a juvenile audience. Their novels display tyranny, large-scale catastrophe, invasion, and children in danger, and their apocalyptic settings reveal anxieties about isolation, invasion, Indigenous land rights and colonization. (108)
Grieve examines the role of metafiction in children's literature and its reliance on reader participation and interaction, by looking at textual strategies that construct the 'game' as text or fiction. These strategies include structuring the narrative around the rules of an actual game, constructing either the physical book or the text as a game, and/or representing characters as 'players in a game' (5). The discussion is a response to critics who question the value of child-focused metafictional texts and of narrative techniques that demystify fictional illusions (such as multiple narrative endings, unreliable narrators and characters, linguistic play, and the reworking of established literary codes and conventions through parody and intertextuality).
Grieve explores a number of texts based on the 'interrogative or metafictional play' and self-reflexivity the narratives offer, which, she argues, 'makes the reader aware of the interplay between reality and illusion' (6). As well as novels from the UK and the USA, Grieves discusses a number of Australian texts: Power and Glory (Emily Rodda and Geoff Kelly), Beyond the Labyrinth (Gillian Rubinstein), Inventing Anthony West (Gary Crew), and The Water Tower (Gary Crew and Steven Woolman).
Metafiction challenges the dominant humanist literary tradition, which posits 'stable, knowable texts' (5), by 'problematizing mimetic illusion' and questioning the 'nature and existence of reality, the creation of literary universes and the nature of human artefacts' (13). This is the value of metafictive narratives for children that Grieve elucidates and ultimately supports.