I never read any of the Goosebumps books when I was a kid, so when the task showed up in a reading challenge, I thought I would give one a try. Obviou...moreI never read any of the Goosebumps books when I was a kid, so when the task showed up in a reading challenge, I thought I would give one a try. Obviously the book is aimed at very young readers, but I found the writing childish rather than just simple and understandable. Putting myself back into the shoes of my elementary school self, I don't think I would have been a fan.(less)
For the first half of this book, I would have called it "hippie dystopia." The "Make Love Not War" message came on a bit too strong at times (Did she...moreFor the first half of this book, I would have called it "hippie dystopia." The "Make Love Not War" message came on a bit too strong at times (Did she really need to mention the need for temporary sterility in the youth halls? And does "close communion" mean what I think it means?), but like most dystopian societies (and cults) the happy world of Green Sky is not as joyful as it seems.
Like many others I played the video game (on my grandmother's Apple II) and love the treetop world of Green Sky. I was around 8 years old when I found the novel on the shelf of the library, and I eagerly checked it out to have another chance to explore the world I loved from the game. Unfortunately, I never made it past the first chapter. The book went back to the library unread. As an 8-year-old girl, I always played as Pomma and spent hours exploring the branches of the trees more than following the quest. The book took too long to get to its descriptions of Green Sky, and I was too young to understand Raamo's angst.
Twenty-five years later I picked up the novel once more. This time it was a return to the world I'd loved as a child, and as the story unfolded my favorite game began to make more sense.
Considering the book from a less sentimental perspective, with the popularity of YA dystopia, it suddenly seems almost contemporary. The writing style is slightly dated as the children's and YA mediums have matured in the last few decades. Judging by my 8-year-old reaction, this book would have made a better YA novel than a children's book, and could have benefited from a bit more description and fleshing out of the details. However, I feel like it would still make a good dystopian book for anyone who felt that current YA selections are a bit too graphic for younger readers.
The ending is not much of an ending and seems more like a milestone in a longer novel, so I suppose I will have to pick up the next two to finish the story. And I have to admit that I look forward to returning to Green Sky a few more times.(less)
Having seen the film dozens of times as a kid, I was hesitant to read this. I thought maybe the wonder of the story and the setting might be diminishe...moreHaving seen the film dozens of times as a kid, I was hesitant to read this. I thought maybe the wonder of the story and the setting might be diminished, and maybe I would be bored. It turns out that the film (at least the first one) covers less than half of the book, and even then it doesn't actually include everything from the original story.
While my original fear of being bored reading a story I already knew was unfounded, the book suffered from another problem for me. The plot is very episodic, and each chapter almost stands alone as its own adventure. Personally I don't care for this style of storytelling and I was never completely drawn into the book. However, as a children's book, I think it could be great to read a chapter at a time, taking advantage of these bite-size adventure stories.(less)
Re-reading this after many years, I'm surprised by the quality of the writing! The book makes some playful nods to classic literature, and despite tar...moreRe-reading this after many years, I'm surprised by the quality of the writing! The book makes some playful nods to classic literature, and despite targeting a young audience, the language is not at all dumbed down. For example, I was startled to see the word "admonition" in the second sentence of a book targeted at elementary school readers.
I can see how the humor and plot appealed to my younger self, and I appreciate that the book must have challenged me a bit at the time. Now as an adult, the book is still enjoyable if a bit short and too quickly paced.(less)
Years ago when this book first came out I reviewed it for the local newspaper. 17 years later I've finally been to Antarctica, and I feel it's time fo...moreYears ago when this book first came out I reviewed it for the local newspaper. 17 years later I've finally been to Antarctica, and I feel it's time for a re-read.(less)
I picked up this book because I loved Black Hearts in Battersea when I was a child, and I enjoyed it again when I re-read it as an adult. I thought t...moreI picked up this book because I loved Black Hearts in Battersea when I was a child, and I enjoyed it again when I re-read it as an adult. I thought that it would be interesting to see how Aiken carried on the story of her characters (even though Dido was never my favorite), but unfortunately Nightbirds did not live up to my expectations.
The plot and intrigue are similar to the tale in its predecessor, but the story as a whole feels more disjoint. Add to this the fact that the crucial plot point is so unrealistic that even my 7-year-old self would have raised an eyebrow, and I just can't recommend it.(less)
I read this book as a child, and it stuck with me for years. I'd forgotten the title & author, but I recently managed to track it down and bought...moreI read this book as a child, and it stuck with me for years. I'd forgotten the title & author, but I recently managed to track it down and bought a copy of my familiar 1987 edition on eBay.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to re-read it, and once again I was swept away to historic Chelsea to follow Simon's adventure. One of the things (besides the 20 years of fading memory) that made it difficult for me to remember much from my first read is that the story is extremely lively and a lot happens in the books few pages. This high-speed adventure is probably one of the things that drew me in as a 7-year-old, but from a critical view it ends up feeling slightly disjointed.
One thing that did improve with age was the intertwining of the characters. While my younger self would have found the coincidences and connections between the characters unrealistic, my experience brought to mind the great 19th century novels of Dickens and Hugo, which thrive on these small-world circumstances.
However, reading this book wasn't a critical endeavor, and I definitely enjoyed my trip down memory lane. The story is fun, the characters are endearing, and the setting is superbly created. This book will definitely go on the list of titles to pass on to my children or god-children to enjoy.
Unfortunately I was left with one nagging question at the end, which is, "Why did Aiken choose to set the book in an alternate history, where the Jacobites triumphed over the Hanoverians?" It seems generally irrelevant to the story, which could have instead built itself on thwarting a Jacobite plot. Perhaps this is explained in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, which I did not read in elementary school, but which sits on my shelf waiting hopefully to answer my questions.(less)