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Fast-paced, futuristic adventure for teens

Set in NZ 20-odd years in the future, corporations from both the Western Alliance (WA) and the United People's Republic (UPR) have carved up our local resources for themselves, leaving the local population disconnected from the land and living very tenuously - water and food shortages, depleted oil and gas supplies, climate change effects, erosion of social welfare and employment protections, a divided and impoverished society where only those at the top have any wealth or power.

Ash (Ashley) McCarthy is an 18-year-old, first-year university student at Canterbury University, living in a student hostel. His father is head of the CTU; his mother died when his younger brother Mikey, who has Down Syndrome, was 3 months old.

The novel opens with Ash and his friends embarking on a night of heavy drinking, to settle their fears over the UPR's torpedoing of an Australian ship in NZ territorial waters after a prolonged dispute. Ash receives the terrible news that his father has died in a bomb blast. Nothing is ever the same again as Ash must deal with his father's death, look after his brother and leave town as the threat from offshore gets seriously worrying. Ash is thrown into a fast-paced series of disasters, finally learning the awful truth about his mother.


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 deifntiely 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 Hagers’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

The strong and extremely well-developed characters, along with the dystopian theme, formed an action-packed story that in many ways reflects the current issues facing humankind today.

Pene Walsh, LIANZA Children's Book Awards Convenor

This book was AMAZING probably the best I have read in a long time (and I read lots) but this book really took the cake. Awesome, unforgettable characters, a plot I never wanted to end and an amazing setting. I didn't want to turn the last page. I can so see why this book was up for an award. 10 out of 10 is what I give it. An awesome read. Well worth it.

Stella, Paige & Blackmore

Another great read from Mandy Hager. A story that has a lot of themes that are topical and with a little imagination even slightly plausible. Ash is a very likeable character and his relationship with his Downs syndrome brother is very real"

Paula, RHNZ sales rep

"there aren't many authors who can write a teenage novel about drugs, sex and family violence without it sounding like a health class lecture... [but] Kiwi author Mandy Hager kept me enthralled"

Pip Cole, Tearaway

"I found [The Crossing] utterly compelling...very much in the vein of Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale' or Lowry's 'The Giver'...great book. Important book."

Tania Roxborogh, Otago Daily Times

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    June 1, 2012

    RHNZ Children's

    368 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • EBook


    June 1, 2012

    RHNZ Children’s ebooks

    364 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

Awards and Recognition

  • Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Award
    Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction
  • NZ Post Children's Book Awards
    Young Adult Fiction category

Also by Mandy Hager

Singing Home the Whale
Dear Vincent
Into the Wilderness
The Crossing


Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
If I Stay
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Alice-Miranda At School 1
Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator
Midnight Jewel
Noughts & Crosses
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Why I Love Footy
Anne Of Green Gables
Thirteen Reasons Why
Old School: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (BK10)
The Fault In Our Stars
Magnus Chase And The Sword Of Summer (Book 1)
The Witches
A Semi-definitive List of Worst Nightmares
You Choose AFL: Footy Fever
Pippa's Island 1: The Beach Shack Cafe
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time