Book Review

Recent Reads: Wanderer by Roger Davenport and Bone Quill by John and Carol E Barrowman.

A round up of some of the books I’ve recently read.

Wanderer by Roger Davenport. Sky Pony Press.
WandererHere in a vast lost valley, society has split into two: the Wanderers, who team together to battle against the elements and each other in the harsh world of the desert, and those who live in the pyramid-city of Arcone, whose closed environment and tightly controlled society enable them to maintain a more civilized existence in the face of an environmentally devastated planet. Conflict is inevitable…

Kean is a Wanderer, adopted into a team that has protected him since he was a child. Essa lives with her parents in the pyramid, and chafes at the mental and physical restrictions the government enforces to protect its people. But when a rogue Wanderer plans an attack on the city to gain its resources for his people, Kean and Essa’s paths collide with an impact that will alter their lives forever.

This book was a really interesting read. Initially it grabbed my attention, then for a few chapters I didn’t feel like I was quite getting it, and then I settled into it and it flowed well.

As post-apocalyptic YA fiction goes this is pretty standard fare. The contrasts between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ are pretty stark, though for me at times the author held back a little in this respect. The ‘haves’, living comfortably within Arcone have some pretty despicable attitudes and operating practices. At times the reader has to put two and two together to realise how awful they can be – I felt sometimes the would have benefited from some of these aspects being spelt out a little more explicitly, this would add weight to them and allow the reader to really stop and examine the society (and in some respects compare it to our own).

I particularly enjoyed the sections focusing on the ‘have nots’ living in the wilderness outside Arcone. Their world is harsh, and challenging, I found it fascinating and would have gladly read lots more about it. I really liked the way this society of outcasts had formed a structure with rules, customs and routines. I cared more about this group of characters, particularly Kean.

Overall this was a good read, I’d definitely have liked a bit more from it, but I certainly enjoyed it.

Bone Quill by John and Carol E. Barrowman. Buster Books.
BoneQuillIn this thrilling sequel to Hollow Earth, Matt and Emily must stop someone from unleashing an army of mankind’s worst nightmares.

In the Middle Ages, an old monk used his powers and a bone quill to ink a magical manuscript, The Book of Beasts. Over the centuries the Book, and the quill, were lost.

Twins Matt and Emily Calder are Animare – just like their ancestor, the monk. The things they draw can be brought to life, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Now Matt and Em are being watched -hunted – because only they can use The Book of Beasts and the bone quill to release the terrible demons and monsters their ancestor illustrated.

And someone is tracking down the lost Book of Beasts, page by page, and reassembling it. Matt and Emily have no choice: They must get to the bone quill first… before somebody gets to them.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Hollow Earth so had high hopes for this book. Sadly by the end of the book I was sad and frustrated.

The beginning of the book worked really well for me, there is a quick recap of what has already happened in the story, and to help even more there is a glossary of some of the terminology used within the story. The adventure aspect of the book is also just as strong, there’s plenty of excitement and the scenes zip past quickly. A time travel element is added to the plot, whilst this did end up leaving me with unanswered questions it did bring some great scenes and ideas to the book.

Where the book did completely let me down was in the treatment of Em, the female twin. In the first book she played an equal part to the two main boys, something I was entirely refreshed by – too often the girl in such trios is in the background doing all the work and getting none of the credit. Sadly she did not receive such good treatment in this book, instead she is absent for a good proportion of the book and ends up virtually a damsel needing to be rescued. The final, major sequence of the book actually can be boiled down to the males doing and the females feeling.

I’m so sad about this, the very thing that made me so impressed with Hollow Earth was the thing that made this book such a disappointment. I will read the final part of the trilogy in the hope there’s some redeeming factor, but I’ll be going in to it with greatly reduced expectations.

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