Ida (Alison Evans, Echo Publishing)
Ida Wagner can travel backwards in time, but is clueless about how to move forwards with her life. She thinks her biggest problem is figuring out what to do now that she’s graduated high school—until sinister doppelgangers start appearing. Alison Evans’ Ida is the type of genre mash-up that YA is famed for. It accurately reflects the contemporary world and the challenges faced by young adults with intersectional identities. Speculative fiction elements are explained clearly for the target age group of older teens, while the horror undertones are deliciously creepy—tonally reminiscent of Kirsty Eagar’s Night Beach. Ida’s pacing falters occasionally, with some repetition of plot points, but the story still builds in a tense crescendo. Its greatest strength is its cast of characters. The honest warmth of Ida and Daisy’s romance; the levity and support of her cousin Frank—these are the scenes that shine. Written by a genderqueer author, and with a rare wealth of gender diverse characters, Ida is a landmark book in Australian YA. It is about trying to find the right path when every direction feels wrong, and will appeal to anyone who’s struggled to answer the question: ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’
Jordi Kerr is a freelance reviewer and youth literature advocate, formerly with the Centre for Youth Literature.