Destinee Sutton's Reviews > The Wikkeling

The Wikkeling by Steven Arntson
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Jan 02, 12

bookshelves: middle-grade, dystopia
Read in January, 2012

Henrietta Gad-Fly lives in a world where safety is the number one concern. Her school bus has not only seat belts, but head straps. Her clothes have yellow visibility stripes. Her parents can monitor her 24 hours a day via mobile phone and Bed Cam. That is, until Henrietta's Bed Cam mysteriously breaks, and her adventures into the past begin. Can she and her friends figure out why they get terrible headaches? Or what is going on with the wild house cat in Henrietta's attic? Most importantly, can they discover the secret of the creepy flickering monster known as the Wikkeling?

With excellent illustrations and a cool dystopian premise, this book has a lot of shelf appeal. I was very into it until about 60% of the way through when I started to feel confused by everything going on. I think first-time children's author Arntson didn't quite build a world with consistent internal logic. There's the 1984-ish setting, and then there's the magic-ish attic and the monster-ish Wikkeling. It somehow didn't mesh well for me. I was never sure what was going on with the view from the attic or why the kids could see the Wikkeling.

So, it left me a little befuddled, but I really liked a lot of the details: the honk ads, the perfumed pollution, the supremacy of the Competency Exam, the underground Subscribers, the Bestiary. I ended up buying a copy because I got impatient for my library hold to be fulfilled, and it really is a beautiful book to have on your shelf. I also saw Steven Arntson speak to a group of kids at our Mock Newbery and he was great.
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