Thursday, 18 August 2011

Exodus, by Julie Bertagna: Sea Change

I've missed the boat on this one.
Exodus is an end of the world environmental adventure, think The Road with a girl, more boats and less no cannibalism. It follows the adventures of Mara Bell who lives with her parents and younger brother in a village on an island in the sea. And that's all they know. Their island and the sea, all the other land has been flooded as global warming ravages the world.

The the sea hasn't stopped rising. It is threatening to wipe them all out.

Mara persuades the islanders that they need to leave the island before it is washed away. They set off looking for  a futuristic city and refuge. Things go wrong, the future isn't as bright as it seems and Mara is left struggling to find her why through the flooding world and remnants of humanity.

Exodus is an exciting and thought provoking read. As a main character Mara is interesting and believable though I'm not sure I really liked the working in of a kind of prophesy around her. Men in the story generally get a hard time, basically we're to blame for everything wrong and only strong women and nice to everyone. But maybe I'm just a paranoid misogynist.

The pace is a little slow to begin with but the story picks up and leads to some interesting scenes and characters. The refugee boat village is particularly horrific. There's a slightly strange love story worked in which seemed a bit like it was stuffed in to keep someone happy. As the climax is reached it does start to feel a bit hurried. There is one incident with Mara where she does something pretty terrible, especially for a girl that has lived a fairly idyllic life on an island for the most part, after a bit of shock she fine. There's emotional toughness for you. It ends in a slightly unsatisfactory 'we're going for the series' ending that left me a bit flat.

But also wanting to read the next one. So I guess it works. The review reads a bit negative but the book is very enjoyable and the niggles I've listed are only minor.

Exodus is around for about £4. It's been out for literally years.



Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Mortlock, Jon Mayhew: It had my Guts for Garters

Full of guts.
Sorry for the long break, we moved house, as you might know if you read our blog about writing. So here is the next book review, there should be quite a few coming up as even though we haven't been reviewing we've been reading!

Mortlock is the spooky horror tale, the first book by Jon Mayhew (the second is The Demon Collector that I reviewed down below). To be honest when I say the word Mortlock I think or Grandpa Simpson. But that's Matlock. Matlock Mortlock; Mortlock Matlock. I'm not sure what I'm going on about either.

It follows the adventures of two orphaned twin children, Josie and Alfie, left a message by Josie's dying guardian to find the Amarant, a plant with power over life and death. Chased by three ghuls, hideous women/giant crows that enjoy tearing out people's guts when not chasing the children, Josie and Alfie find their list of allies shrinking and their enemies growing.

Josie and Alfie are great characters to follow. Josie is a dead-eye knife thrower from her time working as a magicians assistant and Alfie can raise the dead for reasons that are revealed in the book (I'm not going to tell you. Stop asking!). But their enemies, the ghuls, really make the book. You'll never look at a crow in the same way again. Those beady eyes watching you.


Waiting to eat your guts.

Mortlock is an exciting, scary, gory read. Kids'll love it.

Mortlock can be found for about a fiver.