Akela is a novel set at the intersection of societies, but the world Goodridge has created feels much, much larger than even this. The Animorphs—even more so than the Aborigines and First Peoples—have developed an intimate relationship with the land we’ve colonised and claimed as our own. They have seen civilizations come and go, and their songs will forever remind them of the transient nature of life.
The California Consortium follows the narrative that Animorphs should be domesticated for the survival of modern man. This is alarmingly reminiscent of the Aboriginal Integration policies applied in Australia, not too long ago. This and other issues provoke thought without resorting to excessive violence or sentimentality. Intentions are blurred, and one cannot help but wonder. Akela feels relevant to our world—even without the presence of Animorphs.
An overarching theme is the resilience of native peoples to find their own way of survival and integration—at their own pace and on their own terms—to the toxic world we have created around them.
The only criticism of this piece is that readers who want to dive right into the action might find the pace in the first half of the book a bit slow. There is a lot of necessary world-building and character exploration. It is, however, done in an interesting manner so it is never boring, and the investment is worth it in the end.
Whereas “The White Crusade” left me wanting, Goodridge is right back on form with this offering. Akela is an amazing book and comes highly recommended. The world is larger than life, the characters are relatable and the issues it raises are topical without being preachy. It is a world that begs further exploration. *****