A review of The Gifts of Life by Oliver Smuhar

Oliver Smuhar’s The Gifts of Life is a deep and entrancing novel, with its strong fantasy based plotline and elements of the coming of age genre. The rich and well thought out characters created clever relationships and delightful banter.

The character of Faith, the powerful, intellectual heroine, but also best friend and love interest to main character Perry, was a favourite of mine. Her strength throughout the book, especially the start, is ladylike, but also a great role model of tough feminism. The way she takes on the world in the opening, while sticking to her interest in art, is beautiful. This dwindles a little as the events of the book take its toll on her, but resilience is a formidable ally which she draws on in times of need.

The start of the book was quite relatable to adolescence, more so to late teens. In a specific party setting nearing the beginning of the book there were definite drug references, along with the strong coarse language used throughout, which did add to the feel of the story, but made it less appropriate for younger audiences.

As the plotline developed, use of strong bloody gore and serious sexual violence made the book definitely not appropriate for young teens. I recommend this book for late highschool and young adults.

Besides this, when I finished reading the book, I was left with new concepts and ideas of how the world could be. I congratulate this young author on his first book; a very knowledgeable and insightful read.

About the reviewer: Tzipporah Tiffenright, often known as Zippie, has loved writing and reading all her life. Libraries are a second home to her, along with Young People’s Theatre which houses her love for drama. She goes to a performing arts high school where she focuses on drama, but tap dances, plays piano, writes songs and sings. Zippie’s singing group, with her sister and mother, are called Songlarks and perform regularly. Follow Songlarks on Instagram for updates on gigs and performances @songlarks_ Zippie published her first book at 8, through her great uncle’s publishing company, The Maitland Press, and has published 3 more since, with her fifth book coming soon and another stand-alone being written. In year 7, she came first in her year for English, she loves writing book reviews and is thirteen years old. Recently, she has launched her new student newsletter.

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