Thursday, 4 June 2009

Nicholas Dane by Melvin Burgess

Melvin set out to write a campaigning novel in the style of Dickens, and using Dickens' literary architecture - based on Oliver Twist. Most of the stories used in this novel are based on the true stories of people who were in the care system in the corrupt 1980s. This is a compelling novel, full of violence, unbelievable abuse and a deep sense of dread at what will happen next. But it is also a story that needs telling and that needs exposing to a wider audience. I have some qualms that it will seem alien to today's youth, but perhaps that is my construct, and young people read as they find and skip what they don't - so it may create opportunities for talk and discussion, and may stop such abuse ever happening again; and should certainly stop the unforgivable acceptance or rather denial that these things happened in the first place.

The Bride's Farewell

Meg Rosoff's new novel is, as ever, a masterpiece of plotting and character. Pell Ridley leaves home on the morning of her wedding to avoid a marriage to the local blacksmith. Her young brother (who is mute) comes with her and they set off on her pony Jack to escape their destiny. This is set in mid 19th Century Nomansland, with lots of horses, dogs, poachers and open country (around Salisbury Plain) with itinerant people and those out to do others down. This short novel is rich in characters and incident. A real page turner.

Spring Reading

What can I say - it's been a busy time and I haven't had the time to comment as much as I would have liked - but nonetheless I have kept reading....

Some recommendations for a Good read...

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. Set in the American colonies at the time of the revolutionary wars this is the story of Isabel and Ruth - and their slavery in New York. I found it gripping and involving - as well as feeling authentic and I felt I learned a great deal about how it might have been.

The Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43 by Harriet Goodwin. Not yet published I was lucky enough to have a proof copy. This is a new take on the boy who takes and drive away a car to escape his constant grief and guilt over his father's death - and though it deals with a hard subject - and dwells on death (most of the characters are ghosts in the Underworld) the ultimate story is both uplifting, humorous and fun - as well as being an adventure quest of sorts. A good debut novel.

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant. A thriller where the detectives are a slightly misfitting boy and girl in a small German town - where their classmates are going missing. Some of the adults are totally sinister. Another new talent - well worth reading.

Malice by Chris Wooding. I love the idea of this novel - which has graphic elements as well as the usual chapters but was disappointed that it was left on such a cliff hanger ending. A sinister comic - Malice- entices young people into it's terrifying world where they may perish in their attempts to escape...