When at Kings Cross Station in London, I eagerly sought out Platform 9 3/4, which they had dutifully installed in a wall niche. Wilson's desire to proWhen at Kings Cross Station in London, I eagerly sought out Platform 9 3/4, which they had dutifully installed in a wall niche. Wilson's desire to provide children of this country fiction that is grounded here is an interesting goal, and it is entirely possible kids in Wisconsin are happy to have so much excitement occur right in their own backyards.
We meet the three siblings, barely treading water at a dilapidated hotel, which is a REAL location (Wilson has it on his website) just long enough to feel how depressing things have gotten since Dad disappeared in the ocean, and Mom disappeared into a coma. Cue the Potter similarities, including Cyrus' dark hair and sister Antigone's euphonious name to Herminone, although we must cut some slack over the orphaned status since that is standard fodder for this genre. Enter the supernatural stranger who hands over mysterious objects and unsuspected birthrights, and yes, we find out the dappy old woman at the hotel is in fact of a Mrs. Figg nature, an initiate in a secret society that, of course has a huge school filled with antiquities by a large lake. Yet, since this is an American tale, the mysterious people with unusual, somewhat magical properties do not wield wands; they all tote guns of various flavors from the functional to the fantastic, and this gun play begins almost immediately.
When the younger siblings do find themselves at a very exclusive and secretive school, prime directive of exploration is augmented by a rigorous education that includes ancient and modern languages, learning to fly, learning to sail, and various other ways to defend oneself or attack others. The very American notion of testing oneself is institutionalized and encouraged, contrary to the random chance elements of British tales, particularly those written after World War II by authors still struggling to understand why they were still alive. This encouragement of education and pushing oneself to learn and grow is exciting and hopefully encouraging to young readers who would fashion themselves after imagined and real people who are purported to be members of the group.
Still, the story is gripping while the storytelling seldom is. The book is not filled with passages that are linguistically epic or descriptively beautiful, but the characters are intriguing and you will want to know how the tale goes, including the next book, but the story so strongly feels like a screenplay in a hopeful early form, you may be able to wait for the movie if you don't want to bother pushing yourself to read this hefty tome. ...more
Perfect to serve with testosterone tea, but I do appreciate his detailed suppositions regarding drug cartels, middle eastern opium trade and the imporPerfect to serve with testosterone tea, but I do appreciate his detailed suppositions regarding drug cartels, middle eastern opium trade and the import of terrorists along the very same lines. If it was not a book on cd at my local library, I would not have taken the time to read it, but with that caveat noted, I was anxious to know how the whole sordid affair worked out. Like Dan Brown, its always the fat girl who gets killed, while the attractive one survives to create beautiful codas with the macho protagonists. Ah well, another beautiful formula noted. ...more
I was surprised how much more I liked this book on a reread, and I suspect it was because the first time through it was the impatience of knowing howI was surprised how much more I liked this book on a reread, and I suspect it was because the first time through it was the impatience of knowing how the whole thing would end that kept me from enjoying the storytelling of this book. ...more
Yes, everyone is reading this to prepare for the movie, and well they should as it is one of the finest young adult books I have ever read. I am quiteYes, everyone is reading this to prepare for the movie, and well they should as it is one of the finest young adult books I have ever read. I am quite sure it will be mandatory reading in the most interesting classrooms as the topics it covers are vital to everyone who wants to consider what kind of society they want to inhabit. When describing this book, I invoke "The Lottery" "1984 and "Lord of the Flies" and upon my reread (which I did before my daughter read it for the first time) I will upgrade the stars from 4 to 5 as the bones of this story scream new classic. Time is running out, you really ought to form your own images in your head of these characters before they are emblazoned into your neurons by what seems to be a movie that does justice to this tale. ...more
"Nasty, brutish and short" as several friends quoted when I said I was reading a book about the 1100's (Thomas Hobbes, "The Leviathan" if you are curi"Nasty, brutish and short" as several friends quoted when I said I was reading a book about the 1100's (Thomas Hobbes, "The Leviathan" if you are curious). I will be talking about this book for awhile, so brace yourselves. The first two words are so right, but the book is, as all will admit, quite long but so far worth it.
Admission: I am enjoying this book on CD, which has helped me through (and caused) a few sleepless nights. It has also eased my spring cleaning as nothing sounds so good as a clean house and dry house with a warm meal when hearing the travails during The Anarchy. You also will celebrate your lack of serfdom, and wonder what weak ale or bitter wine you would have had to swill down 900 years ago aided by Follett's tome....more
So far, the Hakka people I meet in literature are tough, sweet, loyal and memorable. The protagonist's sister Kwan (eventually) recalls for me a favorSo far, the Hakka people I meet in literature are tough, sweet, loyal and memorable. The protagonist's sister Kwan (eventually) recalls for me a favorite character from Michner's "Hawaii," Char Nyuk Tsin, who was also a practical, hardworking Hakka woman (mountain dwelling Chinese). I found this book compelling . . . I simply could not put it down for long yet, by the end, some of the more incredulous spots ended up rubbing a raw nerve. Otherwise, I would have given it a 5 star for its hysterical dialog and heartbreaking storyline. Kwan is a character who will float back in my mind from time to time. ...more