Tim Winton’s novel Lockie Leonard: Human Torpedo is a romantic teen drama, which was published by McPhee Gribble in 1990. The novel explores the journey of a young boy who is discovering who he is as an individual, and who others are. This storyline resonates with many young teenagers, who are experiencing changes through their teenage years. Lockie Leonard is now an Australian children’s television series. Which has been aired in Australia, the UK and Ireland. Both the novel and television show has received many accolades. The novel has received special mentions and has been shortlisted by a variety of Children’s Choice Awards. These include WAYRBA, YABBA, KROC and KOALA Children’s Choice Awards. One of the novel’s largest accolades was winning the ‘Prize for Writing for Young Adults’ in 1996, from YABBA Children’s Choice Awards. An author similar to Tim Winton, is Alex Miller. They are both well respected authors in Australia, who have published around the same amount of books. Both authors base most of their novel’s setting in Australia. Both authors focus their storylines on the journey of a character. Alex Miller’s books usually focusses on the protagonist finding reconciliation with the antagonist, while Winton’s novel’s usually focusses on the protagonist’s inner journey.
The novel’s setting and protagonists are based around the life of a twelve-and-three-quarters-year-old boy. We are introduced to the main protagonist Lockie Leonard with the following hook. “The first day Lockie Leonard saw this town it was raining.” (Pg.5) The weather is used to express the protagonist’s emotions and show the audience that the Leonard family don’t want to move to the small coastal town in Western Australia, called Angelus. Tim Winton portrays the town of Angelus as small and crummy-looking. “The whole family tried to be cheerful about it, but the place looked awful. The town was small and crummy-looking and when they saw the house the police force had organized for them, everyone in the car fell quiet.” (Pg. 5) The main protagonist Lockie Leonard, is a hot surf-rat who is sometimes referred to as a human torpedo or swamp rat. Other characters in Winton’s novel includes Philip, the younger bed-wetting brother; his father, who is the Sarge; his mother, known as Mrs Leonard; and his baby sister Barbara (AKA Blob). Another important character, who could be considered a protagonist and antagonist, is Vicki Streeton. She is the smartest, prettiest and richest girl at Angelus High School. She is Lockie’s main love interest throughout this novel. The main antagonist within this novel is Lockie Leonard himself. There are times where he is his own worst enemy, as he lets insecurities get in the way of friends and pushing himself at of his comfort zone.
This novel is following the journey of Lockie Leonard, who is finding relationships and hobbies that define who he is. Lockie and his family move to the small coastal town, Angelus. It takes a while for Lockie to settle into Angelus. “It almost stopped him in his track, the thought that came to him. He didn’t know anyone in this school. He didn’t know a single person.” (Pg.31) This shows that he faces uncertainty of his position in this new town and school. He starts experiencing undeniable feelings for the girl in the front row of his Math’s class, Vicki Streeton. Vicki approaches him one lunchtime and from that point on, their encounters become more frequent. Until it is official that Lockie and Vicki are a couple. Once this happens Lockie cruises through school. Being invited to the coolest parties, being president of the surf club and hanging out with the coolest group. (Chapter 10) This is all until their relationship comes crumbling down. Lockie has losses sight of his morals and losses the “love of his life”. Will he recover, or has he lost everything that is important to him?
The theme in this novel is “Your values and beliefs shape you into a better person”. Lockie discovers what values he lives up to and believes others should to. Examples of this within the book include when Lockie decided not to fight (Pg. 96-97 Chapter. 20) when Vicki smoked (Pg. 65 Chapter. 13) and within Youth Group (Pg. 71 Chapter. 14) During chapter 20 Lockie decided not to fight against the two bogan bullies. This is because Lockie believes it is not right to fight, and he didn’t want to stoop to the bullies’ standards. Even though he questioned if he did the right thing, he stuck to his morals and didn’t use violence to solve his problems. Within chapter 13 Lockie confronted Vicki about her smoking. He openly shared his opinions and beliefs and wasn’t afraid to get shut down, especially when Vicki questions his belief in God. This shows that he believes in his moral and will stand by them. Within chapter 14, Lockie went to Youth Group. He was disgusted by the attitude that some children were showing towards different races, cultures, beliefs and groups. He stuck to his morals by not participating and agreeing with the disrespectful conversations that were taking place. If he did participate he may have been more liked, while he did not let them influence his decisions. This is a recurring theme, that Tim Winton used to build the character of Lockie Leonard.
This novel is constructed intelligently, while the storyline is not thrilling. I believe it lacks in depth and personality. Tim Winton used language and weather intelligently, as he complimented these elements with the feelings of the characters. Winton was able to show characters growing through literature. He did this by showing us the character’s mindset throughout this novel. Lockie in particular we can see him grow from the experiences he faces. He grows particularly through the experiences he has with Vicki, such as their passion session. Overall the novel was constructed well but is not something I would suggest to other readers such as myself.
Lockie Leonard: Human Torpedo should be read for how well the novel is constructed. However, if someone is looking for a novel that leaves them at the edge of their seat, this is not the right book for them.
- Winton, T. (1990). Lockie Leonard: Human Torpedo. McPhee Gribble.
- IMDb. (n.d.). Lockie Leonard. Retrieved from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0320702/
- Children's Book Council of Australia. (n.d.). Book of the Year Awards: Winners and Shortlists. Retrieved from https://www.cbca.org.au/winners-and-shortlists
- WAYRBA. (n.d.). The WAYRBA Children's Choice Awards. Retrieved from https://wayrba.org.au/
- YABBA. (n.d.). YABBA - Young Australian Best Book Awards. Retrieved from https://www.yabba.org.au/
- KROC. (n.d.). Kroc Awards. Retrieved from https://krocawards.wordpress.com/
- KOALA. (n.d.). KOALA Awards. Retrieved from https://www.koalansw.org.au/koala-awards.html
- YABBA. (n.d.). YABBA Awards. Retrieved from https://www.yabba.org.au/
- Miller, A. (Year). Title of Alex Miller's book. Publisher.
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation. (n.d.). Lockie Leonard. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/abc3/shows/5731.htm