Posts filed under ‘Young Adult’
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a book (deemed a mystery novel by the book’s narrator) written from the point of view of a 15-year-old autistic savant named Christopher. During the course of the book, Christopher demonstrates his photographic memory in detail. He uses a DVD as an analogy of what he is able to do, being that he can easily remember specifics, including what his mother was like when she was still alive, and even what she smoked, wore or read at a particular moment, as well as the exact words she said. Thus the narration resembles a transcript rather than a proper narrative, with more emphasis on the actions and words of others instead of their emotions. This uniqueness also stems from the fact that early in the book we find out that Christopher has difficulty understanding facial emotions and cannot describe feelings very well.
Despite his photographic memory, we also find out that the “mysteries” depicted in the book are indeed, from his point of view, mysteries, due to his inability to come to conclusions easily. For example, when he discovers a letter to him from his supposedly dead mother, he wonders if it was sent to the wrong person, while ignoring the possibility that his mother is not dead.
In general, the narration of the book may repel certain readers who prefer their narration to be more straightforward and less long-winded, due to a lot of sidetracking and anecdotes brought up in the story. However, it can also be viewed as insightful, since the narrating style used by Christopher is very uncommon due to his emotional disabilities. The information overload he experiences is also an insight that shows how he is able to analyse things that we normally do not pay attention to or take for granted.
This novel is a recommended read for those who like twists, no matter how minor they might possibly be, as there are numerous twists, both foreshadowed and unexpected, throughout the story.
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Reviewed by Gary Leong (2A1)
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief is the debut novel in the renowned fantasy series. The plot centres around the battle between demons and Greek gods such as Zeus. The hero is a young Percy Jackson, who is secretly a demigod—half god and half human; his father is none other than Poseidon. As such, Percy possesses amazing powers such as incredible fighting skills, with the ability to harness water as medicine and to manipulate water into any form he wants. This gives him a great advantage over the demons.
After Percy is accused of being a thief, his quest is to retrieve Zeus’ master lightning bolt in an attempt to affirm his innocence and to prevent a god war from breaking out. Two counterparts journey with him: Annabeth, daughter of Athena, and Grover, a satyr. Their journey involves conquests against demons such as a mighty Hydra, and culminates in an act of betrayal that leads to a climactic battle scene.
Rick Riordan carefully crafts a netherworld that is believable and haunting. The captivating plot combined with his unique vivid descriptions of character hold the reader—this is a riveting read. To cap this all off, his surreal setting, with Mount Olympus situated above the Empire State Building, provides the perfect backdrop against which to set the nonstop action.
If you enjoy fantasy punctuated with epic battles and peopled with intimidating demons, join Percy Jackson for the ride of lifetime.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Reviewed by Yau Chun Shin (3H1)
If you had to kill twenty-three people, one of whom loves you deeply, to survive, would you do it? That is the quandary that sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen faces in the young-adult science fiction novel The Hunger Games.
The book is set in a dystopian world ruthlessly dictated by the government, known as the Capitol. As punishment for a failed uprising, it has instituted an event, where two tributes from twelve districts will be selected and pitted against each other in a fight to the death. When Katniss’s sister is chosen, she volunteers herself.
The Hunger Games is written in the present tense, through the eyes of Katniss. This creates a sense of immediacy, making it all the more engrossing. Detailed, vivid descriptions of Collins’ futuristic world immediately immerses the reader in Katniss’ life-and-death struggle. The plot is exciting and well-paced, focusing as much on Katniss’s reactions and emotions as on the action in the arena.
A pity, then, that the novel does not exploit its rich allegorical potential. It sacrifices the possible parallels with real-life situations for its engaging plot and fast pace. Given the very nature of the subject at hand, this is probably the more sensible thing to do, but the novel would be altogether more complete if it were able to draw parallels between the Capitol and current authoritarian governments. The author probably did not want to infuse her political leanings into an eminently readable adolescent novel.
Overall, though, The Hunger Games is a well-rounded book. What it lacks in allegorical content, it more than makes up for in its excellent plot and vivid descriptions. The development of characters within the book is also satisfying, exploring the effects of the violence on minor characters as well as Katniss. A great read.
Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz
Reviewed by Yeo Jun Hui (3A3)
This is Anthony Horowitz’s eighth and last book in the Alex Rider series. The plot involves 14 year-old spy, Alex Rider, who works for the British spy agency. In the story, he meets his rival, Desmond McCain, the “generous and powerful” chief of international charity, at a card game in a Scottish castle on New Year’s Eve. After beating McCain at Texas Hold ‘Em, Rider is almost assassinated when his car, driven by his friend’s parents, plunges into a nearby lake. Was it because of the card game that McCain wanted him eradicated, or was his friend’s father the architect of the accident?
This thriller has been likened to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. Horowitz’s style is direct and fast-flowing. This has an appeal to readers like me who are impatient and expect to access the action immediately. Furthermore, I really enjoyed the action when the climactic point is at its peak: when Rider is chased by his enemy while trying to detonate a bomb on a dam in Kenya. However, I was disappointed when the spy tools given to Rider were not as futuristic as the ones in the other books.
This novel would translate well onto the big screen. Hopefully someone will produce an Alex Rider film that might one day even rival the popularity of Harry Potter’s box-office success.