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About the book
  • Published: 26 February 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143772422
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $19.99

The Nature of Ash




The Nature of Ash is a phenomenal book, which deserves the highest praise for its wonderful characters, unique voices and almost-unbearable suspense.’ — Booksellers NZ

A prize-winning, fast-paced thriller that explores love and loss, assumptions and prejudices, truth and fiction, and the many faces of 'family’.

Ash McCarthy thinks he finally has it made, revelling in the freedom of being a student. But life is about to take a drastic turn when two police officers knock on his door. Their devastating news forces him to return home and propels him into a shady world of political intrigue, corruption, terrorism and lies . . . so many lies.

As if this isn't bad enough, the whole country is imploding, as the world's two greatest super-powers start a fight that leaves New Zealand 'piggy-in-the-middle' of their deadly games. While trying to protect his brother, Ash’s fight to uncover the truth turns into a nightmare race to save their lives.

Winner of LIANZA Young Adult Fiction Award 2013. Shortlisted for NZ Post Children's Book Awards 2013.

The Nature of Ash is a phenomenal book, which deserves the highest praise for its wonderful characters, unique voices and almost-unbearable suspense.’ — Booksellers NZ

  • Pub date: 26 February 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143772422
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Mandy Hager

Mandy Hager has been awarded the Katherine Mansfield Menton fellowship for 2014, and she was the 2012 recipient of the New Zealand Society of Authors Beatson Fellowship. She won the Esther Glen Award for Fiction for her YA novel Smashed and Best Young Adult Book in the NZ Post Book Awards 2010 for The Crossing. The Nature of Ash won the LIANZA YA Fiction Award in 2013 and was shortlisted for the 2013 NZ Post Children's Book Awards. In 2015 her novel Singing Home the Whale was awarded a Storylines Notable Book Award; was a finalist for the LIANZA YA Fiction award; it won the YA category of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults; and was named the 2015 Margaret Mahy Book of the Year. Singing Home the Whale was described by the judges as a novel that "should be compulsory reading in any country that still hunts whales." Her adult novel, Heloise, was longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards in 2018.

Hager has a MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University and an Advanced Diploma in Applied Arts (Writing) from Whitireia Community Polytechnic, where she now works as a tutor and mentor. She lives with her partner on the Kapiti Coast.

She has written novels for adults and young adults, short stories, scripts, and non-fiction resources for young people.

See more at www.mandyhager.com, and on her Facebook pages for the Blood of the Lamb trilogy and for The Nature of Ash.

Internationally acclaimed writer Margaret Mahy proclaimed The Crossing as being like ‘1984 for teenagers — direct, passionate and powerful’, while in the Otago Daily Times children’s writer and reviewer Tania Roxborogh similarly drew comparisons between this ‘important book’ and other literary classics, declaring it ‘utterly compelling . . . very much in the vein of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or Lowry’s The Giver’. The New Zealand Listener identified The Crossing as ‘classic young adult fiction’, describing it as ‘fast-paced, moving and the personal is always political . . . . tracking the journey from childhood to adulthood . . . [with] an authentic, fully realised sense of place’. The second title in the Blood of the Lamb trilogy, Into the Wilderness, was described by the Listener as a ‘sustained, gripping piece of writing, a visceral battle against the elements’. The trilogy concluded with the ‘gripping, futuristic’Resurrection.

Stand-alone thriller The Nature of Ash received a glowing review from Zac Harding of Christchurch City Library: ‘Mandy Hager has set a new standard in thrilling, action-packed stories for NZ teens with her new book, The Nature of Ash, and I’ll say it can proudly stand alongside these international, best-selling dystopian thrillers . . . The Nature of Ash is an exciting, explosive, action-packed thriller that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish . . . Ash is one of the most authentic male teen characters in New Zealand fiction. ’

Graham Beattie on Beattie’s Blog, concurred: ‘It is not often you would describe a YA novel as a blockbuster but in this case it is totally appropriate . . . This 364-page totally gripping Wellington-set thriller has been getting rave reviews around the country and now having read the story myself I am not at all surprised. Action-packed, fast-paced stuff . . . Watch out for it in next year’s book awards. ’

Pip Cole in Tearaway declared herself ‘enthralled’, while Diane McCarthy commended the real, contemporary settings of this ‘political . . . futuristic’ novel, saying they gave ‘some real grit and realism’. She praised Hager for being ‘very brave’ — ‘I don’t know of many authors who write political thrillers for teens. ’

The Saturday Express saw The Nature of Ash as having wider appeal than the average teen novel, ‘part coming-of-age novel, part future warning of where we could end up, politically and socially’. The reviewer noted the ‘strong underlying themes of accepting those who are different, standing up for what you believe is important, and self-acceptance’, concluding ‘Hager could well be New Zealand’s answer to Aussie writer John Marsden’.

Also by Mandy Hager

See all

Praise for The Nature of Ash

“Mandy Hager has set a new standard in thrilling, action-packed stories for NZ teens with her new book, The Nature of Ash, and I’ll say it can proudly stand alongside these international, best-selling dystopian thrillers. In my opinion, Ash is one of the most authentic male teen characters in New Zealand fiction. Mandy Hager is absolutely spot-on with Ash’s voice, his actions and decisions. Mandy Hager has created a story and characters that will stay with me long after I’ve put the book down. I’m sure that teenage boys in particular will relate to Ash and his struggle to do what’s right.”

Zac Harding, Some of my best friends are books blog

“Hager's recent dystopian Blood of the Lamb trilogy edged her close to the cross-over audience. This new novel straddles any remaining divide with utmost confidence... The novel is best described as a political thriller... and it is defintiely a page-turner, one of those novels that refuse to leave your hands. Political, economic and ecological issues sizzle in the action, dialogue and reactions of the characters. Just as often they lie in the chilling specific detail.... but the strength lies in Hager's attention to how her characters feel. The heart of the book is Ash's love for his less able brother. Mikey must be one of the most successful characters in recent local writing. he's funny, heart-rending and, in this bleak view of the future, strangely brings a smile to the reader, a lift of the heart. In the end, the novel challenges the reader to think about politics and family in equal measure... The Nature of Ash is a novel very hard to forget.”

Barbara Else, New Zealand Books

“The Nature of Ash is a phenomenal book, which deserves the highest praise for its wonderful characters, unique voices and almost-unbearable suspense. With a fast pace that has you racing to reach the end, the tension and thrills of Mandy Hager’s novel are sure to grip its readers. You will be stunned by the sharp twists; this chilling roller-coaster read will have you on the edge of your seat. I highly recommend The Nature of Ash to older teens – adults, too – this is not a tale you will forget in a hurry.”

Tierney, Booksellers NZ Blog

“It is not often you would describe a YA novel as a blockbuster but in this case it is totally appropriate. From my Collins Internet-linked dictionary – Blockbuster – a very successful, effective of forceful person or thing. This 364 page, totally gripping Wellington-set thriller has been getting rave reviews around the country and having now read the story myself I am not at all surprised. Action-packed, fast paced stuff that I read it in two long sittings. Watch out for it in next year’s book awards.”

Beattie’s Book Blog


Awards & Recognition

  • Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Award

    Awarded • 2013 • Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction

  • NZ Post Children's Book Awards

    Finalist • 2013 • Young Adult Fiction category


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