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BOOK REVIEW: White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock

| 25 February 2019 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock

Walker Books
July 2018
Paperback, $16.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Young Adult / Mystery



Peter Blankman is afraid of everything and must confront unimaginable terror when his mother is attacked. 

Seventeen-year-old Peter Blankman is a maths prodigy. He also suffers from severe panic attacks. Afraid of everything, he finds solace in the orderly and logical world of mathematics and in the love of his family: his scientist mum and his tough twin sister Bel, as well as Ingrid, his only friend. 

However, when his mother is found stabbed before an award ceremony and his sister is nowhere to be found, Pete is dragged into a world of espionage and violence where state and family secrets intertwine. Armed only with his extraordinary analytical skills, Peter may just discover that his biggest weakness is his greatest strength.


For readers who have battled with anxiety or OCD, this book offers an honest, realistic, and at times rather startling portrayal of what life can be like under pressure, so it’s worth noting this up front. Those likely to be triggered should be aware of this going in.

“You’re going to have the biggest, most epic public meltdown in history. It’ll go viral. Fuck viral, it’ll go pandemic. They’ll film kids reacting to kids reacting to watching you and get hundreds of millions of hits. You’ll change the lexicon. ‘Meltdown’ will vanish from the dictionary and be replaced by ‘Petey’, as in ‘doing a Petey’. The next time a cheaply constructed uranium power station gets swept up in a tidal wave and the zirconium rods crack and gamma radiation floods out to blight the surrounding city with cancerous death, the Nuclear Petey will be on every front page of every news site on the internet!”

For those who are looking for accurate representation in fiction, this story comes to us from an author who struggles with these issues himself, and there are bound to be many “been there” moments.

What’s wrong?
I spread my hands. Nothing. Nothing’s wrong. That’s the sane, rational answer. Only, there are too many people, or too few, or the tables aren’t spaced out evenly enough, or the lights seem superfluous in a room with three hundred and sixty-eight panes of glass in the windows, or some other perfectly normal thing that today just screams wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. 

But beyond that, this is a story of high-stakes action and mystery, all while Pete is still battling with his anxieties and trying to figure out his future.

I’d read about libido spiking in the wake of a big adrenaline hit, but I’d never experienced it before. It’s really weird: your brain chemistry shouting contradictory instructions at you like a war movie drill sergeant. “Private Blankman! ATTENTION! Run! Hide! Run again! Good! Now you’re no longer in immediate physical danger, father as many offspring as possible in the nest sixty seconds, in case the threat comes back! AT THE DOUBLE, YOU MISERABLE MAGGOT!”

Pete feels the fear, oh so strongly, and does what needs to be done anyway – the very definition of courage.

Bel turns to look at me impressed, and I glow. “Check you out,” she says. “Doctor of Fear.”
“I like the way you say that.”
“Like it’s a superpower, rather than the product of living seventeen years with various nervous bowel conditions.”
She shrugs. “Any reason it can’t be both?”

Pollock delivers one heck of a thrill ride, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Category: Book Reviews

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