Black Saturday will be remembered for the tragic loss of life that resulted from Victoria's catastrophic bush fires on February 7th, 2009. The question on everybody's lips was 'how did this happen?' Chloe Hooper brings together information about the nature of bush fires along with the details of the investigation into one of the deliberately lit fires and the subsequent prosecution. The outcome - a detailed and well-balanced examination of what took place as well as an objective understanding of the man who contributed to the devastation.
A compelling and comprehensive read.
We all enjoyed this book, rather to our surprise considering how grim the subject matter is. Hooper's novelistic style of non-fiction writing and her selection of detail were very successful in making the book easy to read and in engaging sympathy for the community whose lives were changed by the fire, those who lost their lives, and the unfortunate man at the centre of events. Her descriptions made the facts come alive. Our discussion covered Australian bush fires, what makes an arsonist, the treatment of outsiders, and questions of personal responsibility.
Chloe Hooper's examination of the Black Saturday fires and Brendan Sokaluk's part in them was empathetic and as objective as possible. We had to read through some parts quickly because of the horror, but everyone thought it was well covered and very readable. There was a lot of discussion from the notes' questions and our own interests, especially about autism.
Some of the group found this book confusing, others enjoyed the fact that it was a true story written as crime fiction.
For such a small book, it had so much going on! We all loved the format; detectives, lawyers, courtroom etc. Superbly put together and there were so many interesting opinions on the culprit/villain or victim Thumbs up.
Plenty of discussion but we had many unanswered questions about the true cause/ causes. It was not regarded as one of our better reads.
Quite a page turner - had to keep reading to find out what happened. very well researched, and a very human and thought- provoking presentation. A lot of empathy in the account - no winners or losers.
Well-written, well researched book. Inconclusive - none of us convinced he was guilty. The science of fire investigation fascinated us.
Another book that was much more interesting and enjoyable than anyone expected.
An engaging and enjoyable read - despite the horrors of the fires on Black Saturday ( and their consequences). The book generated lots of discussion about autism, the "loners" in society, global warming, disastrous fires across the globe etc. Well-written.
Had a great discussion. We liked the fact that the author left us to make up our own minds about the fire's causes. Much in depth discussion about autism , and how blame is often put on people who are 'different'.
Some of our group really enjoyed reading this book, it led to good discussion. A couple didn't read it as they weren't interested in the topic.
Generated interesting discussion.
We enjoyed discussing this book. The writing was clever, but ultimately it is a good piece of investigative journalism.
Looking for more by this author. Structure of the book commented on. Some members found it very frustrating.
Interesting insight into autism, but found some of the description of people caught in the fire unpleasant and upsetting.
A wide range of reactions to this book. An interesting insight, well structured and beautiful language with unusual images. There were some unexpected moments in the portrayal of the story.
A very informative, well written book especially on the forensic analysis of bush fires. Some of the word pictures gave very haunting impressions of those caught in the fire. Our discussion also centred on 'The Arsonist' and his life, and factors before and after the fire.
Most members were pleased that they had read it. Most were fascinated by the detail and description of fire, investigation and court case. 3 members who have autistic grandchildren found it disturbing. Raised a lot of questions! No-one claimed to have "enjoyed it" but all said it was very good.
Mixed reaction from the group. Interesting insights into the technical aspects of fire investigation. Admiration and sympathy for parents of Brendan expressed by some members.
Very interesting and well-researched book. Certainly very topical as our meeting day was when the Lake Ohau fire was being fought...brought the horror of fire to us as so many images being portrayed on TV and in the media. Most of us wondered if Brendan was really guilty...too many unanswered questions!