Friday, July 24, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
‘The Tombs of Atuan’ is the follow up to A Wizard of Earthsea and the second book from the Earthsea series. In this story, we mainly follow a young girl who is taken away from her family at a very age and is made to be the High Priestess of the Nameless ones called Arha. She is taught many things and made to do many horrors in order to keep the order alive. Yet because this is all she knows, she fears escaping but when an intruder is found in the Tombs of Atuan, Arha is intrigued by the intruder and unknowingly changes her fate.
For those not in the know, the Earthsea Trilogy (now a quartet) is a series written by Ursula Le Guin often found in the children’s sections of the library and bookstores. It has a huge fan base in Japan perhaps even more so than in America. Anime, movies and toys have been made of Earthsea and it is this series that Ursula Le Guin is most famous for.
While Tombs of Atuan’s pace and setting is a lot different than A Wizard of Earthsea, I found that I enjoyed the book a lot more. Much like a good horror novel, it is suspense that drives this book forward. The Tombs of Atuan is a place where no light can be emitted because that would anger the Nameless Gods. So we follow Arha, blinded and feeling around with our hands and knees; one false turn, one misremembered turn and Arha is trapped with the Tombs forever, along with the corpses of slaves and the treasures hidden in a room below the Tombs of Atuan.
If you have read A Wizard of Earthsea before, be warned Ged is not the main character and really takes a backseat. I think this is very clever by Le Guin. Not only does it add an extra dimension to the overall story, stopping the book from being about powerful magics but is also self contained and can be read without reading A Wizard of Earthsea.
The most pleasing aspect of this book besides the suspense was the start and the ending. Right at the beginning you are thrust into action where a little girl is about to have her head chopped off. The end is a juicy cliffhanger. However, if there is something bad to say about this book, it is that it is too short. There could have been more depth in the character Arha and more about the order of The Nameless Ones. But that is probably my adult fantasy background talking.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Zanna and Deeba are two ordinary school girls who live next to each other. One day they see something weird outside Deeba’s house during a sleepover and they follow it into a building (much to the dismay of Deeba). When they exited the building, they were no longer in London…
Nothing was what it seemed. Rubbish would chase them, they could see people (if you can call them that) with cushions for heads with pins sticking out of it, water and fish inside a diving suit that could walk around on land and everything weird imaginable (and not) were all around them.
As the girls try to find a way back to London, Zanna shows her 'travel card' and is greeted with awe and joy.
'UnLondon is at war. We’re under attack. And it’s been written, for centuries, that you – you – will come and save us.'
Un Lun Dun is the first book China Miéville has written for children. His previous books The Rat King, The Scar have all had great reviews and praise for his work but it is his book Perdido Street Station that has put him up on a pedestal and changed many minds on how the fantasy genre can be written. So I was excited to read this book of his.
Un Lun Dun is about two girls who get magically transported to the world of UnLondon where they are very confused and only want to go home. The world is full of strange creatures and nothing is what it seems. They soon find out that UnLondon has been under attack by the ‘Smog’ and that once the Smog has had its way with UnLondon, London will be next. Zanna and Deeba also find out that Zanna is the Chosen one, the one that will save them from the Smog and so is greeted by smiling friendly faces…well except for the Smog and his minions who try and dispatch of her before she fulfills her destiny!
Miéville does an excellent job of making up the world of UnLondon. Things are so creative, so strange that you have no idea how he came up with it. Rubbish Bin bodyguards, flying buses and talking prophetic books are just a few things from his strange world. The story starts off a little slowly, which can be a bit of a detractor especially with the younger generation, but really picks up a fifth of the way in and it’s all on. One of Mieville’s strong points is his ability to word play. Making up words to fool you yet has a deeper meaning as part of the story. Character names are something sneakily amazing.
However, the thing about Mieville and I’ve also noticed this in his book Perdido Street Station is the lack of interest you feel for the main character. The Storyline is great and the action is great but you just don’t care for the character. More often than not, it is the supporting characters you want to know about more because they simply feel more interesting.
All in all, this was a good book to read. I think children will enjoy it because they can relate to the children in the book; the chapters are short so attention spans won't go flying out the window and therefore they also make good chapter books to read to your children as bed time stories.
I'll definitely be reading this book to my classroom of 10 year olds!
"The Matrix meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." - Sleeping with Books
p.s. This Month is YA month for me. I've read quite a few YA books recently and look forward to posting them.