Title: Future Leaders of Nowhere
Author: Emily O’Beirne
Genre: YA, Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Published: March 15th 2017 by Ylva Publishing
*Thanks so much to Ylva Publishing for contacting me and sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way!*
(via Goodreads): “Finn’s solid. Not in body, but in being. She’s gravity and kindness and all those good things that anchor.”
“Willa’s confusing. Sometimes she’s this sweet, sensitive soul. Other times she’s like a flaming arrow you hope isn’t coming for you.”
Finn and Willa have been picked as team leaders in the future leader camp game. The usually confident Finn doesn’t know what’s throwing her more, the fact she’s leading a team of highly unenthusiastic overachievers or coming up against fierce, competitive Willa. And Willa doesn’t know which is harder, leaving her responsibilities behind to pursue her goals or opening up to someone.
Soon they both realise that the hardest thing of all is balancing their clashing ideals with their unexpected connection. And finding a way to win, of course.“
Future Leaders of Nowhere is about a leadership game which takes place in the Australian bush. In the camp game each group is assigned a political position; some are a democracy, a monarchy etc, some groups have resources like food and water and some rely on trade with other groups. Finn’s group is the one with no land, no resources and the ones seeking refugee. Every other day the camp guide gives them a scenario that affects the camps in a way ie. a storm that destroys the food cultivation and so on. These scenarios lead to changes that need to be made and alliances to be formed.
We follow the first half of the story from Finn’s point of view. I immediately took a liking to her after the first few chapters. She is funny, sassy and sarcastic. At her school, Finn is the intermediate captain. When the camp guide tells each group to choose a leader, Finn is the obvious choice for her team. He team mates are lazy shits but they trust her to make the right decisions for her team and get things done!
I loved the character development of Finn. At the beginning of Survival Camp (that’s what I’m going to call it lol) she feels very lonely and misplaced as her parents at home are fighting and she believes they are close to a divorce. She blames herself for it and these thoughts make her feel unsure of herself and she doesn’t feel like being the right person to lead her group.
As the story moves along and Finn and her team are faced with different challenges. While working as a team to solve these problems and meeting and getting to know Willa, she changes for the better. Finn said herself that she has turned into her old self again, the one she was before the almost-divorce of her parents. She becomes more confident and determined, she makes smart choices that help her team and she starts to believe in things AND herself again.
I also really like how the group dynamic changes. At the beginning everyone is very lazy and doesn’t feel like being part of the camp since they don’t really know each other or why they’re there. But they learn how to deal with their situation and start working together towards the goal of winning (even if they don’t know WHAT they’re going to win lol) and it binds them together.
Around the middle of the book the point of view changes and we see the story through Willa’s eyes. I didn’t really know what to think of Willa when we get to know her through Finn’s eyes but I really liked her after experiencing the story from her point of view.
Willa is the leader of another group in the Survival Camp. She was describes by Finn and her group as very intense and fierce, composed and a follower of rules, and sometimes even shy and innocent. Willa sticks to the game and her group but within the group she minds her own business. She distances herself from the others and doesn’t really share information about herself.
Willa is also going through some major character development. She used to be very distanced and composed, although always standing up for herself and others and not taking shit from disrespectful boys (cough Drew, cough), but she still kept to herself. She was a combination of quiet, tough, genius girl. By the end of the book Willa has really opened up to the other girls in her group and learned how to rely on others and not just do everything alone! She found new friends in her team mates and members of other groups.
I loved how the relationship between Willa and Finn evolved.
Her and Finn coincidentally met at a clearing in the woods (I think?) one morning and agreed to meet there every morning and just sit and talk to each other. The only rule they have is not to talk about the game, strategics etc. Over the course of the game they share some private thoughts and they really get to know each other.
They’re both very strong personalities but completely different from each other. But still they fit together perfectly and they were really sweet together. The development of their relationship felt very realistic, it’s like the feelings for the other person creeped up on both of them and they didn’t realise they were slowly falling for each other. It was so sweet.
The writing flowed nicely and the chapters were short so it was very easy to read and breeze through this book! And I generally loved the whole idea of the survival camp. I kind of imagined the setting of the movie The Parent Trap with the camps and everything! I didn’t know what to think when I went into the book and I definitely didn’t expect to love it this much!
The one thing I really loved about this book was the diversity! Obviously we have Finn and Willa as LGBTQ+ characters but there’s also some PoC (we only really get to know the people from Finn’s group because that’s who we follow throughout most of the story). Craig’s dad is Polynesian, Jessie (a very sweet and funny character) is Chinese, we have the two inseperable best friends Hana and Zaki who are both muslim and Willa who is half-Indian.
I loved how it was “slipped in” so casually and naturally and how the characters weren’t portayed like something extraordinary or “exotic” (which happens in some books, ugh, I hate when it’s like being sensationalized). This was a very pleasant read and what I’m looking for in a diverse book!
Future Leaders of Nowhere is a book that is most importantly about friendship and teamwork with a sweet LGBTQ+ romance, loads of diverse characters and some kickass female leaders and group members who are all about girl power.