There's not a lot here, really. One very annoying thing was that it kept referring to page numbers for things that were either in completely different...moreThere's not a lot here, really. One very annoying thing was that it kept referring to page numbers for things that were either in completely different parts of the book or actually didn't exist. Not sure what happened there, apart from bad editing.(less)
Three books into the series, I think it's safe to say that I'm a fan of Arkie Sparkle. Sometimes a book series will have lost its initial m...more(4.5 stars)
Three books into the series, I think it's safe to say that I'm a fan of Arkie Sparkle. Sometimes a book series will have lost its initial momentum by this point, but I found that I enjoyed White Fright more than Time Trap, which is particularly impressive given that I enjoyed Time Trap more than the first book, Code Crimson. The characters have definitely come into their own by this point, and there is little need for scene-setting, so the reader is thrust straight into the action.
While the other books have largely concentrated on brilliant technology and journeys back in time, White Fright moves away from this formula a little, focussing instead upon the mystery surrounding the kidnapping of Arkie's parents and the clues that the two cousins have to work with. This was a change that worked well for me, as the mystery captured my interest right from the beginning, and I've been jumping to conclusions ever since!
A new character is introduced here, which adds a whole new dimension to the story. What seemed like a fairly simple mystery in the beginning is now becoming quite complex and interesting. There's also a little more discussion of Arkie's emotional reaction to the loss of her parents, as would be expected as the initial excitement of the treasure hunt wears off and the reality of the situation begins to sink in. I enjoyed the glimpses into her family's back story and the hints at the strong relationship that she has with her parents.
Most importantly, however, the Arkie Sparkle, Treasure Hunter series continues to be interesting, educational and a whole lot of fun. The plot is thickening, the cast list is growing and there are still four more days to go. I can't wait to see where the girls end up next.
I picked up Escape from Year Eight when I saw it in the library because I remembered reading the second book in the series and not hating i...more(1.5 stars)
I picked up Escape from Year Eight when I saw it in the library because I remembered reading the second book in the series and not hating it. I also didn't hate this book – but I'm afraid I can't really say that I liked it either, unfortunately.
I could deal with the wishy-washy plot and supporting characters, but there were a few messages here that I didn't find appropriate for the young readers it's aimed at. Firstly, there's a pervasive anti-fat thread within the novel. Kaitlin's mother used to be overweight, but now seems obsessive about staying extremely thin, to the point of not having anything remotely fattening in the house. Kaitlin herself freaks out at the idea of eating anything fattening at all, to the point of pushing aside a lunchtime cheeseburger after only a few bites. What's more, one peripheral character, Simone, is present in the book only to be mocked for her weight and dedication to her study.
There's also ample use of terms like "spaz" (including have the love-interest do "a jerky little dance like a spastic person") and "retard". I'm not trying to suggest that year eight students (or eighth grade students, in this case) don't use terms like that, but I don't think that kind of obnoxious and insensitive behaviour needs to be presented in fiction as being normal and okay.
Finally, the authors touch upon the topic of mental illness. Leon's mother is portrayed as having ongoing issues that mean she struggles as a parent and talks to inanimate objects. She is fairly sympathetically portrayed – although this is limited by the way the kids all talk about her – and it is more the exploration of Leon's own issues that struck me as a little naïve. We're presented with a boy who doesn't talk for a couple of years, who seems to have suicidal ideation, who points guns at people and who hears voices, and then we're told that being sent to an alternative school in a big city is the only way his parents and the authorities are trying to help him.
Ultimately, though, Escape from Year Eight wasn't for me because I just couldn't like its protagonist. Kaitlin is petty and shallow and often downright cruel. She goes along with bullying and even participates in it, without showing any real signs of learning from her mistakes. She is probably quite realistic, in this sense, but that doesn't mean I want to read about her. So no, I didn't hate this book, but unfortunately I didn't really enjoy it, either.
I was excited to receive a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.
English Toss on Planet Andong follows the story of Paul, an Au...moreI was excited to receive a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.
English Toss on Planet Andong follows the story of Paul, an Australian teaching English in Korea, touching on the peripheral journeys of two other expats, Billy and Denzil.
As the central character, Paul's role is largely that of observer. However, over the course of the novel, the reader is granted building insights into his back-story, and by the end of the book, he is a more sympathetic character than he appears in the opening chapters.
The introduction of Denzil was a little jarring, but his story is eventually woven in with that of the other characters. Initially, he seems bizarre and comic, but ultimately he is a tragic character. At times, he is very difficult to read about; the reader is torn between cringing at his earnest devotion to an art he fails to master and sympathising with a damaged man.
Billy, however, is the most interesting character in the work. At one moment, he is charming and likeable, the next he becomes abhorrent. "Engagingly repellent," as Paul refers to him. We are only granted brief insights into Billy's background and the internal workings of his mind, but these provide a good portion of the bleakest moments in the book. His fascination with Catherine is both uncomfortable and moving; through it, the reader is shown a glimpse of a broken and complicated man.
English Toss on Planet Andong is not a politically correct novel. Nor does it have a linear plot with an easy, happy ending. Instead, it is an often-difficult work, populated with characters who are two flawed in nature to be unconditionally likeable. The book itself, however, is easy to read. The language is smooth-flowing and the dialogue authentic. I struggled, however, with the depiction of the locals, which was, to me, the greatest negative of the novel. Despite this, I found it an entertaining read.(less)
It's Lonely Planet. Basically the bible of young, broke travellers from all the world over. This one follows the same format as every other one, with...moreIt's Lonely Planet. Basically the bible of young, broke travellers from all the world over. This one follows the same format as every other one, with all the same benefits and limitations. (less)
Some parts of this book are admittedly less interesting than others, but I will always love it for the fact that it records the true horror of our nat...moreSome parts of this book are admittedly less interesting than others, but I will always love it for the fact that it records the true horror of our native species ;)(less)