An award-winning book for young adults has been banned in New Zealand after a Christian group complained.

Let’s hope the people who banned it never hear about Fifty Shades of Grey.

An award-winning book has been banned in New Zealand because it’s got a little bit of sex in it.

Woah, someone alert the book police.

Oh wait, they already DID.

The novel, Into the River by Ted Dawe, is described as a “gripping and gritty coming-of-age novel” that is targeted at young adults.

Family First, a Christian lobby group, complained about the novel to the New Zealand government on the grounds that it contained explicit content and drug use. 

This is the synopsis of the horribly inappropriate text, if you’re interested:

“When Te Arepa Santos is dragged into the river by a giant eel, something happens that will change the course of his whole life. The boy who struggles to the bank is not the same one who plunged in, moments earlier. He has brushed against the spirit world, and there is a price to be paid; an utu (revenge) to be exacted.Years later, far from the protection of whanau (family) and ancestral land, he finds new enemies. This time, with no one to save him, there is a decision to be made: he can wait on the bank, or leap forward into the river.”

The author, 64-year-old teacher Ted Dawe, called the ban ‘extraordinary’.

“I’ve had quite a few emails from people who share that sense of outrage,” he told the New Zealand Herald.

“Do we live in a country where books get banned? I’ll get burnt next.”

Speaking about the themes, Dawe said the supposedly ‘inappropriate’ content was not a defining feature of the book.

“The book was never about sex and drugs, it was always about bullying people and how that damages people for the rest of their lives,” he said.

“That is really the underlying theme, everything else is just the trappings that go along with that.”

The novel won the highest award at the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards before concerned party poopers began to complain.


You can watch a video of two book reviewers discussing the book and its controversy below. Post continues after video. 

Video via Patricia Kay

Any individual who is found distributing the book without knowledge of the ban can face a fine of up to $3,000, while businesses could get slapped with a $10,000 fine. But if you know about the ban and try to sell the book anyway, you’re looking at three months in prison.

All that for a sex scene? Seems pretty extreme. Let’s hope the people who banned it never hear about Fifty Shades of Grey.

Luckily for anyone who wants to read the book in New Zealand, it’s still available on Amazon in kindle edition. You can purchase it here.

Click through the gallery below for more books that have been banned, but really shouldn’t have.