Nomes's Reviews > The Midnight Zoo

The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett
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I often find it hard to review books that startle me with their brilliance. It's as if my own use of the English language can not conjour up anything eloquent enough to match the beauty of the book.

I have been a long time fan of Sonya Hartnett. I have vivid memories of the first time I read her work (Sleeping Dogs ~ I was 14 and reading that book stirred something deep deep inside me & the reading of it is a favourite reading memory of mine).

I am not entirely sure why she has been labelled YA. Her work really does transcend all ages and genres. I am pleased that her books are easily in reach of teens (who will find magic in her books) but I also think her work will resound with all humans in general ;)

I have mentioned on here before how much I ADORE Sonya Hartnett. In fact, she is my most top-read author (according to goodreads ~ alongside John Marsden) having read 14 of her books. I love her so much I find it hard to choose a favourite book of hers but can happily say that The Midnight Zoo carved a new little spot for itself up among my top faves of hers.

The Midnight Zoo is set during WW11, but it doesn't feel like it is particular to that time. The use of magical realism, a fable-like style and the story being told from the POV of two young boys lends the whole tale to an enchanting other-worldy era.

I always prefer to steal into Hartnett's books completely blind ~ with no sense of where she might be taking me (for that reason I don't want to hint much at plot).

What I mainly have to say about this book is it is simply astonishing, utterly gorgeous and deeply moving. It was a truly sensory experience, being transported to another time and place.

I felt such a tenderness and protectiveness towards Andrej and Tomas (gosh, they were brave and daring and scared and perfectly endearing). I was so rooting for them and invested in them, they scampered right into my heart and set up camp there :)

The animals in the zoo are absolutely charming and mystifying. They can talk to the boys and they all have their own shining personalities and stories to tell. This aspect of the book was handled with such eloquent ease and finesse I was just astounded.

The other thing I loved about this book is it is completely unpredictable. Knowing Hartnett's other work, I wanted to hope for a happy ending but knew it wasn't guaranteed. Also ~ her spectacular use of magical realism adds a new dimension in taking the story to somewhere truly gasp-worthy. I felt an ache and tremendous satisfaction at the end.

It's life-affirming and a tear-jerker and achingly hopeful and a simply brilliant story to spend your time with.

It could easily be studied in high school because it is full of gorgeousness and themes and I am sure each re-read (I will re-read this for sure) will show new layers of meaning and depth.

THE MIDNIGHT ZOO has been short-listed alongside some of my other favourite favourite books for the CBCA Book of the year for older readers (2010) [alongside [bookcover:Graffiti Moon|7863274] The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood . It is available internationally. It is on my favourites shelf at home and I absolutely completely love it.
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Reading Progress

02/24/2011 page 88
46.0% 4 comments

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Milly (new)

Milly Sounds so beautiful! It's got both themes I love: historical and magical! I'm definitely giving this a time of my day! Awesome review Nomes!

Nomes thanks milly. it was really awesome. i'm still thinking about it ~ and it's very different to most YA, so good for if you're tired of the regular stuff :)

message 3: by Nic (new) - added it

Nic Gorgeous reivew Nomes. I like how this sounds so unique. I really need to hurry up and try some of Harnett's books :)

message 4: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Field another great review nomes, though i was just as much drawn by the lovely title of the book. another one for the list...

Nomes thanks guys

this book was extraordinary. Sonya Hartnett is just amazing. I agree the title is lovely as well :)

message 6: by Arlene (new)

Arlene This book sounds beautiful! I'm giving it a try. Awesome review Nomes!

Nomes oh arlene ~ i so hope you love it. it's a gorgeous and hopeful and heart breaking read

Sienna I've also read this book, it's a good book

Sienna I've also read this book, it's a good book

Sienna Sorry about sending the same thing twice :o

Nomes Haha, no worries :)

Yeah, it's a really great book! Sonya Hartnett is an amazing writer!

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