Review of No Entry: Young-Adult Novel about Elephant Conservation

Elephant by Michael Levine-Clark. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Donna Mulvenna of Stormbird Press kindly asked me if I could review a conservation-themed novel called No Entry. Naturally, I agreed.

No Entry is a young adult novel about Yael: a 17-year-old girl who enrolls in a conservation-training program in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Yael learns that one of the rangers in her training program is involved in an elephant-poaching ring, which turns her world upside-down.

Overall, No Entry was fun and well-written, but the segments concerning Yael’s brother were distracting.

About the Author

Gila Green. Image courtesy of Stormbird Press.

No Entry was written by Gila Green, a Canadian-born author who lives in Israel. She has three novels and dozens of short stories to her credit, most of which have been set in Israel and the Middle East. No Entry was Green’s first time writing about South Africa, inspired by her time in the Kruger National Park and the horrors of elephant poaching.

Review

The Good

I genuinely enjoyed reading No Entry. It was an engaging book that I flew through in two days, and it was well-written.

Many of the characters in No Entry are also multi-dimensional, meaning that they turn out to be more nuanced than they appear. Examples of such characters include Nadine – an outwardly confident teen who actually struggles with her insecurities – and Jake, who ends up being more helpful than he first seems.

Lastly, No Entry features a healthy dose of suspense. For instance, towards the end of the book Yael finds herself in considerable danger, and she’s forced to trust someone whose allegiance is uncertain. I honestly had no idea how that would turn out, which helped me focus my notoriously short attention span.

The Bad

While I liked No Entry overall, it wasn’t perfect. My main critique is about the situation with Yael’s brother, which I found to be intrusive and unnecessary to the main plot.

The cover of No Entry. Image courtesy of Stormbird Press.

In No Entry, Yael joined the conservation program because her brother, Erez, was killed by French-Canadian separatist terrorists.

When I first read this, the idea of French-Canadian terrorists throwing firebombs into cafes seemed too out-there for an otherwise realistic novel. As it turns out, there actually was a French-Canadian separatist terrorist group called Front de libération du Quebec, so this element of No Entry was based in reality.

Green’s intentions for writing terrorism into No Entry were noble. As she said, “senseless violence” is a problem everywhere, and “we all have to make sure we are part of the solution or there won’t be one.”

This is a valid point, but the terrorism sub-theme distracts from No Entry’s main storyline – that of Yael’s battle with the elephant poachers. I found this to be annoying, and I became frustrated when Yael would randomly invoke her brother’s name during otherwise immersive moments of the novel, ruining my flow.

Thus, I would’ve preferred it if less space was devoted to Erez in No Entry.

Another option would’ve been to cut out the terrorism portions entirely, and have Yael enroll in the conservation program simply because she wanted to help elephants. This would’ve been less dramatic than having her brother get killed by a firebomb, but sometimes simpler is better.

Black-backed jackals in the Kruger National Park, where No Entry is set. Black Backed Jackals at Dawn in Kruger National Park; South Africa by Javier Abalos. CC BY-SA 2.0

Closing Thoughts

Despite my critiques, No Entry is still a good book: it’s well-written, suspenseful, has great characters, and it doesn’t take 300 years to finish. The Erez segments feel out of place, but not enough to break the book.

All-in-all, I’d recommend No Entry to any elephant lovers who are looking for a fun and quick read.

Final Rating: 7/10

12 Thoughts

    1. Likewise I think the setting is what would probably make me look for the book not that the review is not a stellar, I was reading this like wait… Josh you read books hahaha I am curious to know how you came by this read, a recommendation or serendipity
      ~B

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Dear Josh,

    Thanks so much for reviewing No Entry. I’m pleased to read you would recommend it. I invite you to read the sequel when it’s out (just finished writing it) and I’m happy to hear any thoughts you or your readers might have on what you’d like to see when Yael returns for a third time in this eco-series. Best wishes, Gila

    Liked by 2 people

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