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Missing the mark on elephant poaching

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KARYN MOSHE

While the book was undoubtedly gripping, I was disappointed by the lack of character and plot development.

No Entry follows 17-year-old Yael Tamar’s journey from her native Canada to South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Here she partakes in a two-month elephant-conservation programme following the death of her brother, Erez, in the hope that it will give her the opportunity to heal.

She quickly makes friends, and falls comfortably into a routine at the conservation camp, where she is later joined by her boyfriend, David. However, things take a dark turn during a game drive in the park, and Yael realises that elephant poaching is much closer to home than she thought. Yael must decide whether to stay silent and safe, or blow the whistle on the dark underbelly of the Kruger.

While No Entry draws attention to elephant poaching on our reserves and the exploitation of animals for profit, the novel doesn’t inspire action. I felt removed from events.

Green fails to set the scene, making readers feel more like a fly on the wall than an active participant in the plot. The characters remain one dimensional, and as a result, the reader doesn’t feel empathy.

More emphasis is placed on the clothes the characters wear than their thoughts and emotions, isolating readers from the cast. I would have liked more evidence of research in the novel, as well as a more encompassing depiction of South Africa other than poverty and bribery. Punctuation throughout the novel is poor, and I had to reread certain sentences before they made sense.

Not to be misunderstood, I enjoyed Green’s novel, and I applaud the step she took in drawing attention to elephant poaching in our country. But the novel had so much unrealised potential. However, it has value in educating South Africans about the hidden, darker side of our country. I hope the upcoming books in the series will be more immersive, spending more time on character and plot development.

  • Karyn Moshe is an archaeologist by profession, and is pursuing her Master’s degree at the University of the Witwatersrand. She appreciates a chai latte almost as much as a good book, and you can usually find her sorting artefacts with a book in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.

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