Thursday, September 18, 2008

Book Reviews

I've only just started on Floralie the Zombie Fairy Cat so there's nothing to show yet. Instead, I thought, I'll share some book reviews with you of stories I've read recently.

The first one I'd like to mention is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It's a great book and I liked it as much as Life of Pi by Yann Martel . The Book Thief is a very different story from Life of Pi, but it still had a similar feel about it. The Book Thief is a story about a little girl in Hitler Germany (the book thief) and it is narrated by Death. It's a great description of Germany during this dark time, and it shows the worst and the best of it, and how normal people coped with it: the decisions they faced and how they had to find their way through what was a moral labyrinth. I loved all about it, the writing, the narration by Death, and the sensitive way it approached the subject. It should be on history lesson reading lists in schools and universities as it shows the time and the effect it had on people far better than any other book I've read.

The second in my list is The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer. It's a lovely story about a boy who becomes apprentice to a bard who in turn has a quarrel with a half-troll queen which then causes the boy and his little sister to be kidnapped by Vikings. I love the way the Nordic mythology has been woven into the tale and the growth and development of the character. So far I've only read the first of the trilogy (only just found out it's trilogy!) but I will definitely get the other two in the series. Another set of stories based on Nordic mythology is Tales from the Wyrd Museum by Robin Jarvis. Slightly darker than The Sea of Trolls and scarier but nonetheless a great read. Interestingly, one of my friends has just done illustrations to a book called Scotland's Vikings. Check it out, or check out her blog for more info on her other illustrations.

The third one is the prequel to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan and Wendy, Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. It's a good book and a credible back story. I've only read the first in a series of five, but it was good, and I'd recommend it to anyone who liked the original Peter Pan story. However, the thing I missed was Barrie's whimiscal, interesting language. I loved the first page of the original book where it introduces the family. It made me read a story I already knew so well from the Disney film. The prequel is good, though, and I liked the story and the explanation for Neverland, Hook and Peter Pan's 'condition'.

The last one for today is Terry Pratchett's Nation. I like most of Terry Pratchett's books, especially his Discworld novels about the witches and death, however, this is very different and not set in his Discworld. It's the story of a sole survivor of a wave somewhere in a fictive South Pacific. I like the way the boy's thinking changes, how he has to adapt to a new world and the way he does so and how he finds out about the past. It's a gentle book in many ways despite some of the anger the character shows whilst railing against his fate. The characters are credible and likeable and there are many twists and turns that kept me glued to the page.

Credible and likeable characters are something that are very important to me when I read a story. The story can be as good as it likes, if the character is neither credible nor likeable I don't really like the book and find reading it a chore. Somebody who's great at making even the most incredible characters credible is Darren Shan. He's one of my favourite authors and although he writes for children and young adults, his books have a depth that make them great (and often far better than books written for adults). If you don't like horror, don't read them, but if you do, they're brilliant.

What makes a good story? Not sure, my reading tastes are as eclectic as my musical taste as you can tell from the books listed above. What do you like most about the books you read recently?


  1. my daughter who's 11 is reading the book thief-quite fancy it myself but not sure it's suitable for her?? Her friend recommended it to her.

  2. thanks for the link too Sybille :0)

  3. Peter and the Starcatchers is really only a prequel to the Disney version...and the publisher Hyperion is a sub of Disney...
    Their novels have NUMEROUS discrepencies to J.M. Barrie's original stories...Peter HAS a backstory, and this is NOT it.
    All the sequels contradict him, too...

  4. I've just finished reading The Book Thief. I thought it's a wonderful book which should be read by everyone. At some parts, I cried. Really great story. I can't wait to read another Zusak book.

    Here's my review of it. :)


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