It’s that time of the month again – Fiction in 50 kicks off on Monday! To participate, just create a piece of fiction or poetry in fewer than 51 words and then add your link to the comments of my post on Monday. For more information, just click on that snazzy typewriter at the top of this post. Our prompt for this month is…
I don’t know about you but I’m all chocolated out after Easter, so I’ll be opting for a savoury snack to accompany my musings about one middle grade sci-fi comedy novel and one YA coming of age tale. Grab your snack and let’s nosh on!
First up we have The Broken Bridge by Phillip Pullman which we received from PanMacmillan Australia for review. This is a re-release of the novel which was first published in 1994 and here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
At 16, Ginny finds that her love of painting connects her to the artistic Haitian mother she never knew and eases the isolation she feels as the only mixed-race teen in her Welsh village. When she learns she has a half-brother by her father’s first marriage, her world is shattered. Ginny embarks on a quest for the truth that will allow her to claim her artistic heritage–and face her father.
Dip into it for…
…a solid family drama with authentic characters and believable problems. Ginny is a resilient young woman with a strong desire to be an artist like her mother was, but is plagued by the usual stressors and angst that most teens fall victim to at sometime or other during adolescence. She has the added problem of trying to catch hold of a solid identity as a girl with a Welsh father and Haitian mother while living in an almost all-white village. The secrets hinted at in the blurb are revealed slowly and by about a third of the way through the book I began to share Ginny’s bewilderment about what on major hidden aspect she might find out about her past next. The pacing is well done, allowing the reader to get a grasp on Ginny, her friends and the general feel of her hometown before throwing in the confusion of multiple family secrets. Kudos to Pullman also for creating a social worker character who is actually human, rather than overbearing, cold-hearted and disconnected or patronising.
Don’t dip if…
…you want simple resolutions to easily-solved problems. Every story has two sides here, even that of the villainous Joe Chicago.
Overall Dip Factor
This is an engaging coming of age story that paints family breakdown, death and abuse in a believable light without resorting to gratuitous teen melodrama. By the end of the book the reader can appreciate how Ginny has matured in her outlook despite not having all the answers about how she will present herself in the world. I enjoyed this book for its authentic portrayal of a young person carving out a place for herself in her family and in the world.
Next we have How to Outsmart a Billion Robot Bees, the second in the Genius Factor books featuring Nate and Delphine, by Paul Tobin. We received our copy from Bloomsbury Australia for review and we will be submitting this one for the Popsugar Reading Challenge 2017 in the category of a book with a red spine and the Colour Coded Reading Challenge 2017 AND my Wild Goose Chase Reading Challenge in the category of something you’d take on a hunt. I reckon a billion robot bees would be pretty handy. You can check on my progress for all the challenges I’m undertaking this year here.
Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
It’s Friday the 13th again, and for sixth grade genius Nate Bannister, that means doing three more not-so-smart things to keep life interesting. But he has bigger problems than his own experiments. His nemesis, the Red Death Tea Society, is threatening to unleash a swarm of angry bees on the city of Polt if Nate doesn’t join their ranks. But then a new group of people with murky intentions shows up — the League of Ostracized Fellows — and they want Nate as their own, too. To top it off, he’s convinced there’s a spy in his very own school.
Nate must once again team up with his new, resourceful, friend Delphine to save the day. They’ll need the help of Nate’s crazy gadgets, such as his talking car Betsy and super-powered pets Bosper the Scottish terrier and Sir William the gull, if they hope to see another Friday the 13th. Because they might be battling more than just sting-happy bees and villains with a penchant for tea this time around.
…silliness, wild inventions and bee stings in sensitive places. I do enjoy the quirky tone and dry yet silly humour that Tobin has created in these books. There is a certain imagery conjured up by his writing that is truly giggleworthy. Nate and Delphine are also a fun pair and the introduction of Melville – a friendly robot bee adopted by Delphine – adds to the action in this installment. Bosper, Nate’s genetically modified talking dog stole the show for me in this book however – something about his manner of speaking just cracked me up every time. The plot of this one seemed a lot more straightforward than in the first book despite the inclusion of the socially awkward League of Ostracised Fellows and everybody, including the jealous Betsy the car, had a role to play in saving Polt from bee-mageddon: The Sting-en-ing.
Don’t dip if…
…you are after fast-paced action. The one quarrel I have with these stories is that the quirky humour, when added to the action sequences, slows down the pace of the story interminably. My edition clocked in at 340ish pages and by about halfway I was ready for the resolution to start coming into play. While the humour is a massively important part of these books, the constant banter does really slow things down when it feels like things should be speeding up.
Overall Dip Factor
I can’t remember why I didn’t finish the first book in this series, but I think it was something to do with the pacing and a lag in the middle. This book does suffer from the same ailment in my opinion, but I got a lot further along in this story before I really felt the lag, compared to the first book. Nate and Delphine are so likable and the style of humour so enjoyable that I would still pick up a third in the series, but I would be hoping that the story overall would move a bit quicker.
Right, I’m ready for chocolate again after that. Have you read either of these books? Do you like a bit of silly, quirky comedy? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time,