This space was occupied by a review of Broken by Elizabeth Pulford. It has since been removed at the request of the author and I will no longer be rev...moreThis space was occupied by a review of Broken by Elizabeth Pulford. It has since been removed at the request of the author and I will no longer be reviewing anything else by the same author or make any further public comment.(less)
I'm not allowed to say anything until October when the book comes out, but I only have 2 words for you: New. Benchmark. YA. Okay, that's 3 words (or 2...moreI'm not allowed to say anything until October when the book comes out, but I only have 2 words for you: New. Benchmark. YA. Okay, that's 3 words (or 2 words and 1 acronym) but anyway. Let me stuff my hand into my mouth.
This sounds exactly like Shirley's sense of darkness, humour and Bad Romance! Fremantle Press (like Text Publishing) have a knack of putting out these small, niche but amazing YA novels, which is why they're my favourite Aussie publisher (no offence to my own) :)(less)
I deadset wanted to read this book, yeah totally reckon, before they showed it on the television, rite? Those slackarse molls Top Chicks (who live on...moreI deadset wanted to read this book, yeah totally reckon, before they showed it on the television, rite? Those slackarse molls Top Chicks (who live on the good side of Cronulla Goodreads, so not dick'ed authors) - Mandee, Belle, Zoe and Jess, said k'niver ave a go wid ya and I thought perf! Bloody oaff we 'ad an unroole time. I wore me new angora jumper (just off layby from Grace Brothers - 'ave a feel wudya?) and we all did our nails so preedy! We looked like real disco divas ey.
... I was going to write my whole review in Aussie 70's lingo, but I can't keep it up. LOL! *doubles over in laughter*
I adored Puberty Blues and I think I'll probably be scoring it higher than the Girls 'cos everyone has their "one thing" that compels them to pump their score up, and mine is "voice". My biggest bugbear is probably teen voices that sound like 40 year old women unconvincing and I think this novel, with its fresh 70s beach slang that would have sounded relevant at the time - has taken on a funny, quirky, neu-historical feel 33 years later.
Combined with a tongue-in-cheek delivery and a harrowing coming-of-age story - about two best friends and their navigation of their early teen years through surf gangs, sex, drugs and violence - this novel has captured something that feels both "of a time" and "timeless".
My only criticism of it is the brevity (113 pages). At it's very best, it manages to skillfully create a huge amount of spacial imagery (Cronulla Beach in it's entirety) with only a handful of sentences. At the worst, and this is especially true near the end, it felt like I was reading some condensed Readers Digest version of the novel as opposed to the actual novel itself.
The novel got me mainly thinking of two things:
Firstly - what makes something a Classic and something a Cult Classic? Puberty Blues is no true classic by any stretch of the imagination, but there is something so well written about it, something memorable and even loveable about it, that if someone like me can read it for the first time three decades after it's publication and still appreciate it - then something must be said of that.
Secondly - is Puberty Blues anti-Feminist? Afterall, it portrays the mis-treatment of girls, even from the two protagonists to their fellow peers. I would say this novel is actually very Feminist. To me Feminism in writing is the documentation of how women live, by women (two female authors in this instance), showing and exposing the reality, the brutalities that women have to go through in a "sexualised" economy in which they are treated like commodities. From small singular actions (name calling) to much larger issues (gang rape), to show the weakness of women is the strength of women, and that is my very favourite thing about this book.
Hey Cool Cats & Gorgeous Girls! If you've been wondering where I've been... I've just been discharged from hospital. Has anyone started reading this? Yes? No? Let me know. I'm a bit whoozy from morphine, but totally fine to read, interact and review. Squishy hug anyone?
I've got myself a copy with a "racy cover". Forewards by Germaine Greer and KYLIE MINOGUE. Wassat?
Saw the "First Look" TV promo for the upcoming series based on this novel on Channel 10 last night. It looked good!
If you want to jump on the Nostalgia Train and read this Australian Cult "Coming-of-age" Classic set in the 70s (and written in the 80s) then please sign up on the thread below!
I admit I might have liked the promo because I saw a glimpse of Rodger Corser. He may have had side-burns and a 70s 'mo. It was only a headshot, but I hope there are "stubbie shorts" involved further down below. *Clears throat*(less)
I'm going to try and keep this review quite short, as I hate it when someone whose opinions I love and respect (that being the wonderful Jo) recommend...moreI'm going to try and keep this review quite short, as I hate it when someone whose opinions I love and respect (that being the wonderful Jo) recommends me a book that I don't take to at all. Plus I don't really want to waste your time (and upset authors) telling you what I didn't enjoy about this book whereas 1) the proof in the pudding (shortlisting for the WA Premier's Award 2009 and numerous four and five star Goodreads reviews) and 2) I'd rather talk about books that I either adore or find difficult and challenging. Simply said, I just didn't like Brown Skin Blue and I feel quite blase about it.
This novel is about Barry Mundy (nicknamed Barramundy! You know, as in the iconic Australian fish) who while grappling with personal demons, ends up working on a "Croc Jumping" cruise and spends his time pondering about crocs in the water grappling with their prey. The delightful character name I warmed to immediately. The largely obvious metaphor looming in my line of vision I was more than a little wary of.
The very first page presents me with two key elements which are to pave the way of my entire reading experience. On one hand, the unapologetic, searing introduction on the subject of abuse leaves me largely impressed. But on the other, a clunky misuse of a literary device puts a fly (a big Aussie blowie) into my soup. I know the description of Barry's mother complete with red dirt and dry winds is very beautiful, but how does Barry (it's first person POV) know how these two elements felt rough in the back of her throat? I knew that this novel was going to pan out two ways. Either the sheer force of the story will win out and literary gripes will take a backseat (like in Jasper Jones) or the literary devices will overcome the story. This was going to be a death roll with a beast of my own.
I guess you can tell what won out.
I just found the metaphors and symbolism a little chunky, such as the (over-saturated) use of the colour blue and the triggers used to connect the present and the past. The writing style felt awkward, with the flashbacks and the fact that Barry was on the search for his father and yet there was never any active searching and he spent all his time hanging around with his girl-crush instead, with all the answers seemingly coming to him. It elicited the feeling in me that the answer to his question was in the one spot all-along and I arrived at the answer way too early, thus spoiling the "climatic reveal". The experimentation with various other writing styles within the novel - the tragic-comic Richard Flannagan-esque narratives from each possible father and a perplexing quasi-stream-of-consciousness climax... I'm not sure I really enjoyed.
To me "the revelation" should also leave the reader feeling cathartic - wrung out and emotionally exhausted, but lifted and hopeful for the future (because it's a future we don't get to see with a standalone novel), but Brown Skin Blue left me feeling shaken, confused and feeling anything but resolved and reconciled. I felt terrible and I hated how the novel ended there. I'd prefer it to begin there. That "resolution" felt more to me like a "new problem".
Anyway, this is my personal experience of this novel. I am not saying that Belinda Jeffrey has no talent. The opposite. She has immense talent. The issues facing remote communities such as isolation, abuse and the cruelty of nature are real and worthy subjects. I just didn't like the novel. Those looking for an authentic outback novel combined with the adolescent experience will be pleased and best refer to the positive reviews I will willingly link to here. Here and here.
Apologies! This review didn't end up as short as I promised! I will go now! So um.... I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes when you find a book you don't connect with... you just have to roll with it.
I'm a girl that quite fancies "whimsy", which is precisely why my toenails are currently painted pale champagne pink. Something in the World Called Lo...moreI'm a girl that quite fancies "whimsy", which is precisely why my toenails are currently painted pale champagne pink. Something in the World Called Love though, might be so whimsical that without any true gravitas or darkness to weigh it down, it runs the risk of floating away… right over my head and my memory. Right over its literary merit and message. Into the whimsical land of handmade blueberry jams tied with cloth bows and girls with bangs... Of No Return.
Here is a simple test of whether this book is for you:
We're first introduced to our protagonist Esma wearing a blue peg (as in what you put the washing up with) in her hair as a clip.
If this makes you go "Oooo, that is just so whimsical, romantic, quirky etc etc" then you will LOVE this book.
If this makes you go OH NO, is this the sort of person who has bird motifs EVERYWHERE? then I direct you to watch this youtube clip: Put A Bird On It instead.
Esma is a twenty-something year old who has moved into a share house with the charismatic, but cold, distant and little bit superior Kara (kinda like cold, distant and little bit superior Julia from Masterchef 2012) and loveable, affable Simon the muso. Esma has chosen the house for purely emotional reasons, based on the inert feeling that it will help her grow and the writing - make no mistake - beautifully captures Esma's heightened, and highly poetic feelings perfectly.
I think Sue Saliba understands that phase in a woman's life when she is no longer a teen, but still feels under-developed and still like a girl. She manages to evoke that very soft, feminine aspect of her character, while she navigates her through the new adult world of budgets and house-sharing politics and real life.
Beneath all the whimsy though is the very serious issues of the heart, firstly that being Esma's unhealthy obsession with housemate Kara, her need to be loved and validated. I don't know about you, but I admit I may... have very strong connections to a few female friends which borders on a sense of "heightened adoration" and it's nice to see this explored in a novel.
Secondly, Esma gets inadvertently caught up with Puppy Farming, another heavy issue (and a personal campaign close to my own heart). NEVER buy a puppy from a pet shop. THIS IS WHY. I really love the fact that Esma comes to grips that Simon is the brains (researching the legislation), that his girlfriend Samantha are the hands (doing the actual rescue work) and that she is useless at both, but because she feels it the most keenly, that she is the heart.
Which kind of brings me the crux of this review. Esma is all heart and this novel is written all about the heart. And it is gorgeous. I really ended up appreciating the writing style. But at he end of the day, I wish Esma's heart beat a little more passionately and strongly! I wanted to jump up by the end and write that review going EVERYONE READ THIS! I LOVE THIS! But instead I felt strangely… all...
*le sigh* Perhaps to alleviate my ennui I need to decoupage a bird onto all my mis-matched shabby chic teacups...(less)
So here we have it – Cath Crowley’s first novel, The Life and Times of Gracie Faltrain, published in 2004. This is where the magic began! This is what...moreSo here we have it – Cath Crowley’s first novel, The Life and Times of Gracie Faltrain, published in 2004. This is where the magic began! This is what started the almost decade-long journey to the penultimate (at this point in time, anyway) Graffiti Moon! So what is this book like? Is it something to be gaped at, celebrated and preserved for all time like Shakespeare’s House? Or is it a piece of dirty laundry that Cath Crowley wished she could hide in the back of her drawer of smalls and rather you’d not see?
Let me admit that I have passed over this book at least four times at the library. A novel about a soccer playing girl just didn’t interest me because I’m not interested in sports. And for some reason I thought it was middle-grade fiction… it’s actually younger-end Young Adult. Maybe it was the sports theme that made me think that. And speaking of the theme, I dismissed it as a clone written in the early naughties to cash in on the widely popular “Bend It Like Beckham” trend back then.
Which is might very well be. But it doesn’t really matter as long as Cath Crowley – in the words of what a judge on a Music Reality TV would say – “makes it her own.”
From the very first few sentences I knew we were dealing with a talented author. Seriously. All she did was describe a SOCCER BALL IN ACTION and it sounded so poetic with such a lovely grasp on space and feel that I knew that she had IT, the X FACTOR. Call me Simon Cowell.
Believe the other existing, praise-worthy reviews - Grace Faltrain is more than just a soccer novel. You don’t even have to be faintly interested in soccer because like every Cath Crowley novel, it is primarily about people – the complexities of their relationships with each other and it is loaded with buckets of heart and tears-inducing, throat-constricting metaphors on life.
The novel is told in multiple-narrative and this really is where Crowley shines. She makes this structure vital. Much like the game of soccer, the “chapters” are short, sometimes even consisting of a single line as the perspective is passed from Gracie to individuals on her team, the students at her school and even her parents. Unlike in Black Painted Fingernails where I literally had to force myself to read the “parent points of view” (zzzzz old people zzzzz), Gracie’s parents are more akin to the loveable Mr Dietz in Please Ignore Vera Dietz.
Yes, like every debut problem there are rookie problems. Like the motions of soccer itself, there are sentences and sentiments that are repetitive. There are some metaphors which straddle the line between meaningful and cheese - "Those threads that hold Gracie and me were woven tightly around Bill too but he broke them. How do I know they can be spun again?" And at times the novel threatens to turn into “Middle-Class People’s First World Problems” if it wasn’t steered with a hand as steady and skilful as Cath’s.
None of these things matter as critique though, as Cath has since moved on in leaps and bounds since.
Overall, this is a really lovely, emotive first novel. Funny. Fresh. Wonderfully distinctive voice. What makes the novel special falls away near the end as the novel heads towards its fairly unsurprising, run-of-the-mill movie finish, but this doesn't detract too much and I have to remember this is a "kids book".
I've noticed that Graffiti Moon is structured in the classic "Comedy of Errors" style, Gracie Faltrain is your classic “Rise and Fall of (insert name).” In a writing environment where everyone is trying to be unique little snowflakes (and in the process is destroying the fabric of writing), Cath brings a refreshing Classic Sexyback aesthetic to the scene and she does it oh so well.
Score, Cath Crowley.
This review also appears here on my blog Books on Marrs(less)
**Win a beautiful hardcover copy of this book on my blog. Go there now!**
Let me introduce you to someone very special to me. Her name is Carole Wilkin...more**Win a beautiful hardcover copy of this book on my blog. Go there now!**
Let me introduce you to someone very special to me. Her name is Carole Wilkinson, but (funnily enough!) most of you reading this will know her better as Mama of Aussie YA sensation, Lili Wilkinson! I'll say first-up that I am not being paid for this, nor do I even know Carole (or even Lili). I just know them through their work. Okay, I have met Carole once, but all I did was say 'hi", stared at this awesome Chinese brooch she was wearing and then hurried off in a star-struck induced daze to hide somewhere safe.
Carole Wilkinson is the author of the Aussie middle-grade Dragonkeeper Trilogy. I read the first book Dragon Keeper (Dragonkeeper #1) because I decided that the best way for me to choose a publisher for my then-unpublished-manuscript was to go to Borders and find the first book in the Children's section that impressed me the most. Tip-toeing through all the painfully hackneyed kids covers screaming at me with their blinding colours and fonts, I picked up a quiet book with a beautiful cover of a girl with a dragon over her shoulder. The blurb that told me it was a fantasy set in Ancient China about a nameless servant girl who helps a captured dragon escape… and who discovers she is not only entitled to have a name, but a destiny was well. I picked this one, read it and I absolutely adored it. I looked at the name of the publisher. Black Dog Books. I chose them solely as my publisher on the back of this one book.
The Dragonkeeper series spanned three books (and one prequel) but in 2009, Carole Wilkinson announced that she felt that the series was complete and that Ping's journey was over. I was predictably sad, but I agreed the trilogy was complete. Then in 2012 I heard news of a fourth Dragonkeeper book. Hmmm? The journey was over for Ping, who deserves to live the rest of her mortal years in peace, but what about the other half of the dynamic duo - Kai? Being a dragon he could live for 3 thousand years and we've only barely glimpsed his life! So with that premise, we have Blood Brothers (Dragonkeeper #4). Fast- forward in time to an new era in Ancient China and we find Kai (465 years and just a "teenager" really) paired up with Tao, one of Ping's descendants. From there they are propelled together on a journey with a purpose that will reveal both their destinies.
I went into this book expecting to miss Ping and wary of Tao cos I never ever trust new protagonists to existing series (eg: okay, so I loved you Agent Doggett, but you just weren't Agent Mulder). But Tao is so different that I took to him by ahhh… the third page (sorry Ping). I really like how Carole has decided to go with a male MC and that he's in a way, also an anti-thesis of spirited Ping - he's a virtuous Monk-in-training who insists on following the Four Truths of Buddhism, one of them being not to harm any living creatures. Tao even strains his water before he drinks it, in case it catches something tiny in it - much to the detriment of the journey sometimes and to Kai (who post-mod humorously keeps hassling about "but Ping this" and "Png that").
I love the rendering of Ancient China Year 325 which is in a state of Barbarian flux. I can honestly tell you that I am NOT a historical fantasy (or even a plain ol' fantasy reader). But there is something highly accessible about the Dragonkeeper series which much like Harry Potter, I don't think you need to be a fan of the genre to enjoy the series by itself. Don't mistaken this as "Fantasy Lite" though, the research and world-building is impeccable. My knowledge of Ancient China is perfunctory at best, but through the little reading I have done, and having toured the historical sites of Beijing, it feels very "authentic" to me. Carole takes that and fills in all the spaces and gaps in between with magic.
I love Blood Brothers. I think it's an equally interesting and exciting in parts adventure-based story. I like how Carole, who has an innate sensitivity and understanding of the Chinese Culture has decided to hinge the plot on the very magical, delicate and very Chinese concept of "no true journey ever reveals it's true purpose until it is over". The pacing is impeccable and the characterisation is top notch - you really like the main characters and the baddies are very intriguing and multi-dimensional. The novel also doesn't shy away from portraying the brutality and the barbarism of the time. Bloody oath! For a "kid's novel" this book takes ONE IN THE HEART for Human, Women's and animal rights and that is more than I can say for the modern crop of weak, flailing-around YAs and Adult fiction. I can safely say that this is the most inspiring book I have read in a long time.
I cried twice. Once when a girl was being punished and once when a dragon was being punished. This book has a beautifully balanced yin-yang quality. The storyline really compliments the theme of harmonious co-existence which the heart of Carole Wilkinson.
It makes me want to go on brave adventures. It makes me want to be a BETTER person. Not because someone is preaching at me to, but because this book just makes me want to.
And this is why I read children's books.
Middle-grade will always have a special place in my heart and it is the purity of books like this that uphold it. For when I am tired of "edgy" YA with their toxic subtexts trying to push the envelope (eye-roll) and "literary" novels with their first world problems (sigh).
Thank you Carole Wilkinson. You are a true "teacher" in every sense of the word.
Highly recommended for every primary-school aged child in your life and also - EVERYONE. You can either start with this book, as it is a brand new "series", but for a richer reading experience, I suggest you read from Book 1!
I can't wait for the sequel. BTW, I want MORE PEMA! Also so different from Ping. She's gorgeous, Carole.
Vikki, I know our first date went horribly and I went home with a blood nose (and my best dress is ruined), but this second date sounds really, really...moreVikki, I know our first date went horribly and I went home with a blood nose (and my best dress is ruined), but this second date sounds really, really amazing (and I mean it) so let me love you, please :-) (less)
When I was little, one of my favourite games was the "Exquisite Corpse". No seriously, please read on. I assure you it is child safe.
You play it by dr...moreWhen I was little, one of my favourite games was the "Exquisite Corpse". No seriously, please read on. I assure you it is child safe.
You play it by drawing part of a creature, say the head and beginning of the torso. Then you fold it over and pass it onto another person to draw another section. Once the entire body is complete comes the exciting unveiling and one could say that the often macabre result does indeed resemble the exquisite body of some un-dead beast.
Miles From Ordinary reminds me of a game of Exquisite Corpse played out inside Carol Lynch Williams' mind while in both Jekyll and Hyde mode.
Three-quarters of it (the head down to the lower body) is concocted by an unhinged, but coherent author describing a day in the life of young Lacey who in a time of desperation, has signed her severely mentally-ill mother up for a job. They are both in need of money since their inheritance has run out and Lacey is also badly in need of respite away from a woman who constantly draws her into her hallucinatory episodes. Lacey is only thirteen, but she is half an adult, making logical decisions for the both of them, but at the same time she is also a child, unable to grasp the consequences of what will happen if she leads her mother out in the world. I think Lacey is beautifully drawn and I actually enjoyed the slow, languid prose of this section of the book, reflective of Lacey's never-ending ordeal.
The last quarter of the novel (the legs of our Exquisite Corpse) is composed by the author on Mr Hyde overdrive. The book suddenly turns into some sort of full-on-freaky horror story complete with a blackout and cliched creaky stairs. I can understand what Williams is doing, trying to add another layer and getting the reader to ponder the reliability of Lacey's narrative and thus the hereditary nature of mental illness. Pushing toward a showy climax because her editor probably told her she needed to. But...
Even though the story logically flows, there's something about it that doesn't quite fit. And unfortunately I can't offer a solution as to what could be done differently. The last time I played Exquisite Corpse we got a bear in a tutu with chicken feet and much in the same way I am under no authority to tell this tutu-wearing bear what to do with himself, this book...just...is...what it is.
I look at this story and try to see what the Award Givers like about this book. I can see that it tackles a big issue ("mental illness") and it is indeed beautiful in a strange way ("literary").
But then again if I looked through the lens of this book being written by Stephen King, who in a moment of whimsy had decided to write a contemporary YA (channelling the voice of William Faulkner who is somehow moonlighting as a pulp-fiction author) and near the end couldn't help, but burst out as his true self with the sequel to The Dark Half ...then you know, I could also say this was true.
Is this Literary YA... or just a bunch of bad, hokey sounding prose masquerading as Literary YA?
I can't say anything except it and I are both confused. Miles from Ordinary is an Exquisite Corpse in written form, in all respects.
Fiona Wood's upcoming second novel which started out life as Pulchritude and then changed to Kisschassey now has an official title as confirmed by the...moreFiona Wood's upcoming second novel which started out life as Pulchritude and then changed to Kisschassey now has an official title as confirmed by the author on twitter - Wildlife. Thanks Reporter Maggie!
The only info I can find so far is that it is "set in the Victorian Alps" (via Readings)
I was initially wary of this book in much the same way I was wary of Guitar Highway Rose. Even though I LOVED GHR, it still wasn't the sort of book I...moreI was initially wary of this book in much the same way I was wary of Guitar Highway Rose. Even though I LOVED GHR, it still wasn't the sort of book I normally read and I thought maybe its beauty was just a fluke. I was convinced that a novel made completely up of exchanged letters, messages hastily stuck in fridge doors and notes passed around was going to be too lightweight… but this novel changed my mind when halfway through, it took my heart and cracked it in half.
Feeling Sorry for Celia is about Elizabeth and her revelations of friendship with the aforementioned Celia to her new penpal Christina when her English class is forced to write letters in order to save this dying art form. I have to say, this is the most quirky "triangle" I have seen in YA and it makes me think that Jaclyn Moriarty has an agenda herself - to save the dying art form of the "original novel".
Simply said, I love this book. I thought it was going to be a girly-girly book and in a way it is, but in the best way possible. It's a very young hearted and playful and as opposed to being twee, is counter-balanced by Jaclyn Moriarty 's amazing sense of humour, full of sharp and dark wit. When you look below the surface, there's also a lot of dark things happening, least of them being these really snarky and neurotic letters sent by imaginary societies inside the protagonists head and addressed to her Self Esteem.
The clincher for me is how Moriarty balances all these components together until it is just right. Not too deep and dark, just the right amount of sweet optimism and heart-tugging. "Bittersweet" as the book's blurb describes itself is right on the money.
It feels like reading and seeing little snippets of people's lives as they flash on by... and the author has somehow managed to hinge the whole thing onto a traditional novel format, with a plot, character development, climax and resolution. If this was an installation in a museum, I would marvel at the intricacies.
I love the little things, like how we don't get to find out why her mum writes these crazy questions to Elizabeth until we find out later what her mother does for a living. Little glimpse that provide revelations like that sure does tickle Shirley's fancy.
Occasionally, the novel pushes the humour a little too far (even for my liking) until it becomes more farcical than humorous. Oh and the ending is a little bit too "Sandy's Makeover at the end of Grease" for me, but apart from that, a lovely fresh novel.
Not as powerful a juggernaut as say The Book Thief or Jasper Jones or On The Jellicoe Road, but this deserves a rightful place on the "Contemporary Aussie YA Classics" shelf. I would champion it for sure.
I'll definitely try out her other novels now, especially if I've heard correctly and they have overlapping characters. I love a crossover!
I found this poor unwanted book that was once a gift from “Uncle Michael” in the bargains section of Good Sammies, marked down from $2 to $1. I found...moreI found this poor unwanted book that was once a gift from “Uncle Michael” in the bargains section of Good Sammies, marked down from $2 to $1. I found this quite a bargain indeed as it’s got two shiny award stickers on it (one being a 2005 CBCA). I’ve not heard of this book before. Is this a forgotten YA Aussie treasure that should be sitting on a bazillion GR shelves instead?
On the younger spectrum of YA (I’d say 12+), The Running Man is a story of a young boy named Joseph who has to draw a portrait for a school assignment and ends up in the home of the terrifying Vietnam Vet next door called Tom Leyton who he has never seen, but only heard rumours about through his mother’s nosey friend.
A tense relationship begins to form between the two in this slow burner of a novel. The bulk of the narrative is made up of quiet introspective studies between the duo. I myself don’t mind a gentle character study and I found both Joseph and Tom very likeable and I didn’t mind getting to know them in what literally felt like one word at a time on occasions.
What unfortunately bogs it down for me is the plethora of symbolism, not all of them appropriate. Tom Leyton keeps silk worms and this is used as an analogy for himself – a hermit who needs to break free of his cacoon. I like this symbolism, I really do, but after it is re-iterated for the umpteenth time and the author tries to draw more and more parables out of the same thing – I felt it was too much. And the lengthy use of old poetry to further illustrate what I already understand deadens the prose that is struggling with itself to find enough light to balance the darkness.
I really liked this novel until about ¾ in, then it becomes too much.
The use of The Running Man as a symbol of both Joseph and Tom’s fears I think is also only half-there. For me, a good symbol should be intuitive and self-explanatory (eg – the cacoon symbol worked okay), but The Running Man symbol feels counter-intuitive (I feel it doesn’t make sense without a lengthy explanation), thus reducing and limiting the universal appeal.
Overall, a regretfully unbalanced book. There are some dreadfully touching scenes between the two leads. The stories recounted by Tom Leyton are terribly beautiful and plain terrifying at the same time, especially about his time in Vietnam and his subsequent hospitalisation afterwards. He truly is a wonderful character. But ultimately, this book is too heavy and too heavy-handed.
So to answer the question I set out to do – I believe it’s strictly one for the teachers and award-boards. Sorry! (less)