I don’t know a huge amount about Australian history. I do know about Ned Kelly and his suit of armour. I’d reckon most people do – although I did see an amazon review where someone puzzled about the cold opening featuring a robot in 19th century Australia. Parts of this book were eye opening – the poverty, the anti-catholic discrimination, the corruption, the petty criminals and pettier judges. Mostly in the first half of the book; the better half of the book. Carey is a good writer, and the offers a brilliantly grim and detailed look at Kelly’s childhood (if you can call it that). Unfortunately, as the book approaches the climax Carey switches from Kelly’s view to newspaper excerpts, and the drama starts to have more gaps in it (understandably, as Kelly doesn’t have to sit and write). It relegates what could be a very good book into merely quite good. Carey’s writing is good throughout but it is strange (and disappointing) how the momentum actually drops as the story ramps up the stakes.
As a postscript – there is apparently a film of this coming out soon. That could be actually be quite good. Russell Crowe as the veteran bushranger Harry Power is potentially very good (I would actually pick the point that the book started declining as the point where Harry Power stopped being in it).