Michele's Reviews > Ravenwood

Ravenwood by Andrew Fusek Peters
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's review
Jul 15, 12

bookshelves: childrens-fantasy
Read in July, 2012

Thankfully, I am finally finished with this book! It took FOREVER!

Honestly, I did not like this book. I gave it two stars instead of one because I only give one star to books that are just not functional. This book "makes sense," if only in the most basic way: there are no obvious flaws in the logic of the plot, and sadly I have read books that do lack such basic components.

I was excited when I saw this book at my school's bookfair (I'm a school librarian). I liked the cover and it just sounded interesting. What does it have going for it? It has an unusual and intriguing setting. The "people" (I really have no idea if they are people or some kind of bug--they are called Dendrans) live in huge trees. Or at least they are huge in comparison to the species that live there. These trees have been modified into cities, and they never ever go to the bottom of the tree because it is supposedly poisonous. There was some kind of environmental disaster in the distant past or something and their race packed off to an island to live in the trees. The modifications mostly are in the form of metal chutes, walkways, and plumbing. It is a different setting, at least for most children's fantasy.

However. There are many things I didn't like about the book despite its possibilities:

First, I was just bored. The plot sounds like it would be good. A boy overhears something he shouldn't and immediately his life is in danger. He nearly misses death on several occasions, consults with his religious leaders, and then is carried off to meet a mystical bird goddess. He needs what he will learn there to fight the dangers awaiting his community. But somehow this story just drags with silliness that seems serious. Ark (the main character) crashes through the roof of his "church" on top of the "Goodwoody" (really?!). This convenient religious experience spurs him to trust a black feather, which is usually the symbol of death. ! Of course Ark is a special boy with a special purpose who meets a goddess and must pass several tests and .... you know this story, right?

Second, and really the most annoying part of the book, there is just waaaayyyy too much talk about poo. Ark is a "plumber's boy," a sewage worker. He literally works inside the sewer pipes with "squit." This is how is overhears a plot to kill the king. Fine. Except that the sewage is a constant topic in this book! It gets old and overused. I only can think that it was an attempt at humor, but it doesn't work. Consider this sentence as Ark and his friend Mucum (!) are making preparations to stop the assassination of the king: "How he missed the pong of honest poo!" Then a page later, Little Squirt agrees to help by answering "Do boar squit in the woods?" There is much modified swearing as well: "Son of a beech!" (as in trees, but really no one is fooled). Who is the intended audience of this book?

Third, the story spends a lot of time with the enemy. Well, he is the son of he enemy. Ark is clearly the main character, but we get to know his arch rival pretty well. Too well. We see all his greedy machinations, as well as his sympathetic traits. While this might make him a more developed character, it is not enough to be a story of two people, just an uneven enemy. It made the book longer than it needs to be, especially for a book for children.

There are more things I didn't like about it, but I think that is all I need to write.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Michele cannot seem to get through this book....

message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan Zographos Great review, Michele!

Michele Thanks. I feel a little cruel writing it.

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