Chris Vick is a stunning writer – his debut novel ‘Girl. Boy. Sea.’ was shortlisted for the 2020 Cilip Carnegie award. When I was given the chance to read his newest title, I just couldn’t pass it up! I also have a special Q&A from Chris for you to enjoy!
‘From killers to conservationists, Carnegie-shortlisted Chris Vick tells the story of three generations of the Kristensen family, their history as whale hunters and later their mission to save the great whales and our planet.
Summer, the Present
Fiery and fierce, computer geek and eco-activist, Abi is holidaying with her grandmother on an island off the Norwegian coast. Having developed and befriended an AI device, Moonlight, she hopes to organise a global protest. On the island, she learns her great-grandfather rejected the family’s whaling livelihood, instead creating the first whale song recording. Inspired by him, Abi and Moonlight translate the whales’ songs and discover their stories. Whales are under threat, their numbers rapidly dwindling. Abi is determined to help.
Autumn, 30 years later
The world’s ecosystems are collapsing. There is no sight or sound of whales. Abi, her daughter, Tonje, and a now almost conscious Moonlight live on an isolated island in the Atlantic. They search for any sign of whales, but so far there is only silence.
Winter, the Future
Tonje’s search was not in vain. Despite climate crisis and the threat of extinction, there is always hope for the future, as nature and technology combine in a captivating, action-packed adventure with a powerful environmental call to arms.’
It’s time to hear from author, Chris Vick, about the creation of this book:
Where did the idea for this story come from?
When I’m not being a writer I work for Whale and Dolphin Conservation (whales.org) and there we are looking at the role whales play in the ecosystem and how important they are in carbon cycling. We need whales! They can help us stop global warming. So that was the ‘key.’ But the story came from my own family, as I’m half Norwegian with whaling ancestors. And I’ve been inspired by the young generation of eco activists too, like Greta. All these things went in the mix.
What research did you undertake to ensure accuracy and experiences in the story?
Lots of whale science research, and I have seen lots of whales in the wild. Plus, I’ve spent some time in Norway, where a lot of the action is set. But I took some liberties with the facts too, to make the story work as well as it can.
The inter-generational characters add so much depth to the story- did you draw from family or friends for these characters?
Oh yes! My uncle worked on a whaling boat in the 1950’s, and my mum had a wealth of stories too. The main character of Abi, is based in part on my daughter, who is just as head strong and passionate when she gets her teeth in a ‘cause.’
Girl, Boy, Sea was nominated for the prestigious CILIP Carnegie Medal- does this shortlisting affect your writing in new ways?
Interesting question. It perhaps gave me some confidence; particularly to pursue an idea that calls me, even if it’s a bit unconventional.
What do you hope readers will take from reading The Last Whale?
In a word, ‘hope.’ And perhaps a feeling that they have been immersed in the world of the story and have some sense of the ‘wild.’ But mostly yes, hope, that we can make the world a better place.
‘The Last Whale’ is a throughly thought-provoking read which I am sure will resonate with teens who have a keen interest in conservation and protecting our oceans. Vick’s passion and personal knowledge of this topic shine through in this intricately-plotted and emotive story.
Abi as a main character holds the threads of the Kristensen family together as readers learn about their whaling past and their future goal of conserving whales and our planet. At times, it is also difficult to like as her environmental activism tips into the realms of eco-terrorism. This story shines a light on how easy it is to go from climate protestor to criminal.
As well as being a call to arms for readers to sit up and take action to preserve the planet, story also has a dreamy, other-worldly feel as Abi experiences the solitude of remote Norwegian islands, the raw power of the ocean, and the complex beauty of whale song. I loved the sequences where Abi was trying desperately to decode the messages hidden within their music.
I would recommend this book for readers aged 12+
*Many thanks to Zephyr Books for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*