After Iris by Natasha Farrant, reviewed by SF Said
It is hard to think of another writer for young readers who represents technology so seamlessly and vividly. It is not a surface detail; it is part of the fabric of her characters’ world. And if Farrant’s writing never goes as deep, emotionally, as [Hilary] McKay’s or [Dodie] Smith’s, it is in the depiction of this fabric that she excels. Her cultural references are telling and accessible. This is a story where teenage girls don’t face vampires, but use Twilight to think about real life; where teen pregnancy is understood primarily through films and books. “I’ve seen Juno, I’ve read Dear Nobody.”
Farrant’s depiction of the wider context also feels very real. Her London is lived-in and solid: the Notting Hill cafes, the anarchic free school, the claustrophobic tube ride. Even Blue’s parents’ back story feels spot-on (met at Glastonbury in the mid-90s, bonded over a Tarantino double bill). And if it is disconcerting for this reviewer to find the mid-90s treated as an ancient historical period, well, that is itself true to contemporary teen experience.
Of course, it is impossible to know how well such cultural and technological references will date. But right now, they are refreshing to see, and are key to how Farrant injects new life into an old form.