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Dark Quest: inspiring and stirring tale of feminism and awareness

This inspiring and stirring tale of feminism and awareness comes with hints of humour and romance and will provide readers with a slew of new knowledge to take into their daily lives without the sometimes-tediousness of standard non-fiction texts. Kiwi based author L P Hansen does an excellent job of highlighting misogyny in current societies around the world in a way which is comprehensible for a young adult audience.

The novel follows four groups of young people from the Cook Islands, South Africa, New Zealand and India as they learn about the prevalence of human rights abuses in contemporary societies and form solutions to it. They’re brought together by Countess X, one of Europe’s richest people, who has invited the world’s youth to take up a modern-day quest and help her to challenge colossal human rights’ abuses around the globe.

Readers are confronted with the reality of human trafficking, arranged marriage, slavery and other events which affect real women all around the current world. Not only does Hansen outline the harmful actions and subconscious beliefs within modern patriarchal society, she also provides options to help solve the distinct issues specific to the varying cultures. She does this through the groups of each country with each one asked to formulate an original plan for a country other than their own which, when brought to fruition, will be a large step towards solving issues.

The interactions between the teams, and the different perspectives of varying cultures is thought-provoking, as personal connection and outside opinions influence the participants’ perspectives of each other and their ideas. Through friendship, romance, tensions and hurt, the young participants are changed forever at the conclusion of the Quest. The challenges brought by the new adventure lead to growth and the realistic experiences of the budding students are easily and personally relatable to the audience.

Hansen takes on heavy topics well with her fast-paced writing style, making the text suitable for a slightly older young adult audience. The language can be complex at times and the confronting subject matter will weigh heavily on many young reader’s consciousness. Nonetheless, readers are inspired to find, and confront issues, as the upcoming generations are already involved in change, much like the young protagonists depicted in the story.

Facts are incorporated into fiction well, making the story interesting and educational without ever being dull. However, the novel does get repetitive as each group goes through the identical process of receiving the invitation, gathering information and then creating and presenting ideas. Yet it’s clearly well-researched; the inclusion of helpful resources at the conclusion of the book provides the option for readers to act upon the new information, as the novel inspires significant thought about the reader’s own actions and involvement.

L P Hansen is an educational author who has previously written about palm oil, animal welfare and World War I with the aim of increasing and inspiring awareness within younger generations. Personally, I learnt a lot from this novel and I am intrigued to see what other issues Hansen will cover in books to come.

Reviewed by: Link Pickering for KETE BOOKS ( Newsletter 20 May 2021