This book was chosen to be read and discussed at a book group I belong to. We sometimes choose children's/young adult books to read; we are all Dads with teenage children so it's quite interesting to find out what they are reading.
When my 18 year old saw the book arrive, I recall the look of pity on her face as if wondering why adults would read such a book.
Having now read it over 24 hours (I had a weekend with not much to do - both children were away), I would place it as a book for children aged between 11 and 14 but less interesting if they are older.
I did enjoy the experience of reading it although I was not particularly challenged. I like the description of the stratified meritocratic society in which social advancement was based on diligent study and success in exams. Incidentally, the whole concept of a meritocracy has always had its limits as those in charge tend to shape to tests of entry to their own talents rather than recognising other complementary ones.
In some ways it reminded me of the Orwell book, 1984.
However, it has a mythic quality in which three children, a pair of twins boy and girl as well as one of their classmates break out of the comfortable but suffocating existence as they learn of a terrible secret about the city they live in and go to seek out a relic that will bring harmony and happiness to the city.
The adventures they had reminded me quite a lot of King Solomon's Mines, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Gulliver's Travels, books that you hope the young readership of this book might want to explore. I only read these books in late 30s/early 40s and wish I had read them earlier.
I liked also the closeness of the twins and their distinctive characters. Other reviewers have noted that it is the sister, Kestrel, who has the feisty impulsive character of a boy and the brother, Bowman, who has the empathy and sensitivity associated with girls. I enjoyed seeing how their characters developed through the book.
I am looking forward to our discussions and will recommend that one of my children reads this book.
- Hardcover: 356 pages
- Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd (9 April 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1405201959
- ISBN-13: 978-1405201957
- Package Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 3.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 558 g
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