Bruce Gargoyle's Reviews > The Name At The End Of The Ladder

The Name At The End Of The Ladder by Elena de Roo
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Ten Second Synopsis:
September begins the process of choosing her real name but her selection is hijacked by a sinister name counsellor with a seriously involving board game.

I am so pleased I stumbled across this book and decided, despite being pretty broke, to buy it on a whim. I started it last night and finished it this evening and was completely drawn in to the world that De Roo has created. I definitely fell victim to the "just one more chapter" syndrome. I didn't realise when I picked it up but De Roo already has a special place on our shelf as she is the author of the journey of rhythmic brilliance that is The Rain Train.

This is the perfect school holiday read for middle graders who like puzzles, tricky games and a race against time. There were some aspects to this story that could have come across as contrived - the pre-pubescent kids named after their birth month, the idea that names can affect one's personality and behaviours - but the writing transported me so deeply into the world that these aspects just seemed to fit. The one thing that did annoy me though was Madame Alcina's speech impediment that was borne out in the spelling of her dialogue. That drove me nuts and didn't really add much to the character so I felt that the story could have easily done without it, but that's just a personal peeve.

The story didn't have a lot of convoluting detail and the plot moved quickly from one point to the next, so there isn't much time for readers to lose interest. There are a lot of interesting elements added in here that middle graders should enjoy - the jumanji-like board game with its idiosyncratic rules, the word and number puzzles that do their darnedest to trip up unwary players, and the idea of "trying on" different names to see what their effect might be. I very much appreciated the sense of originality that came with reading this story. It's always refreshing to pick up a book and feel like you're discovering something new and different (or at the very least, something that you haven't encountered ad nauseum recently). The friendship between September and August is simple but engaging and provides enough humorous banter to liven things up. I did feel that the resolution to the story came quickly and possibly a bit too easily for my liking, but by that stage I was so engaged in the story that I just wanted to keep reading to the end.

The Name at the End of the Ladder will definitely be living on my "special" shelf from now on - I get the feeling that it will warrant many a re-read when I'm in the mood for something quirky and quick.

Highly recommended for those of a mildly rebellious nature.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 26, 2014 – Finished Reading
September 27, 2014 – Shelved
September 27, 2014 – Shelved as: alternate-history
September 27, 2014 – Shelved as: annoying-characters
September 27, 2014 – Shelved as: extraordinary-powers
September 27, 2014 – Shelved as: fantasy
September 27, 2014 – Shelved as: friendship
September 27, 2014 – Shelved as: kid-lit
September 27, 2014 – Shelved as: kiwi-author
September 27, 2014 – Shelved as: middle-grade-fiction
September 27, 2014 – Shelved as: numbers-maths
September 27, 2014 – Shelved as: unusual-afflictions
September 27, 2014 – Shelved as: riddles
September 27, 2014 – Shelved as: sinister-games

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