Monday, February 21, 2011

The Lake of Dreams

The Lake of Dreams
Kim Edwards
ISBN: 9780670920297
Penguin Books
Published 04/01/2011

I really enjoyed Kim Edward’s first novel – The Memory Keeper’s Daughter – and as with so many second novels I did have high expectations for her latest title – The Lake of Dreams. Unfortunately, some authors have missed the mark with their second. But I thought, with such a lovely title, cover and a storyline that piqued my interest – I was eager to give this story a go and well...I was pleasantly surprise.

The Lake of Dreams is a beautifully written, thought-provoking, lusciously described, emotive, family saga. But not in the sense of ‘over the top, ridiculously dramatic and totally unbelievable type “saga”  - more realistic, subtle mystery and gripping-type saga.

Lucy Jarrett is a wonderer – a young woman free to travel and embrace the world and all it has to offer. Moving from job to job and place to place with her boyfriend, she finds comfort in freedom...well that is until she is unemployed and starts to question her lifestyle choice. When her mother is injured in a car accident, she decides to head back home, to the Lake of Dreams, hoping to gain a new sense of direction and purpose. But what she finds in the once tranquil village is turmoil and uncertain futures for her family. Add to this her own unsettling issues with her father’s unresolved death, her mother’s new romance, the news that her brother is working for their Uncle who cheated their father out of his share of the family business, and a re-acquaintance with her first love - you would think that was enough ‘plot’ for a novel. But there is more... Lucy discovers a collection of objects that reveal a hidden family history – papers dating between 1913 and 1925 link her to a family member who plays an important part in the suffragette movement. This history has a profound meaning for Lucy and leads her on a quest to find out her lineage and maybe an answer to her own past haunts.

Edward’s writing is eloquent and charming. Combined with a suspenseful and captivating plot with fleshed out characters – for me, it is a winner.
I was easily drawn into Lucy and her family’s plights and personal struggles, I was genuinely eager to find out how each of them got to where they are and how they move forward given the unravelled mystery of their past. Lucy’s relationship with her boyfriend and ex-boyfriend is well-rounded, believable and understandable. Even her relationship with her mother and brother seems real and true to each of their characterisations.

I would recommend this book to lovers of the elegance of language, those eager for a good family mystery, and those who wish to step head first into a novel and become totally involved in the lives of an intriguing family set within the gloriously described Lake of Dreams.

P.S. There is a family tree at the back of the book – I had made my own early on in my reading of it, only to discover half way through that there was one already there. But don’t worry, it isn’t because there are loads of characters and it all gets a bit ridiculous, it is handy because there are a few ‘Josephs’!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I am Number 4

I am Number 4
Pittacus Lore
ISBN: 9780143205135
Penguin Books
Published 30/08/2010

Action, Adventure and Aliens...young adult readers are guaranteed to immerse themselves in the world of I am Number Four!

John Smith looks like your average teenager, is trying to fit into a new school, dodge the attention of the resident bully and learn the lingo of love. Add to that pressure the fact that he is a Lorien (an alien) and other aliens (Magodorians) are trying to hunt down the last 9 of their kind after destroying their planet. It also doesn’t help that they are killing them numerically – 1,2 and 3 are dead...and of course John is ‘Number 4’.

I am not surprised that a movie adaptation of this book is due for release this month AND it was in the works before this book was published in 2010.

I am Number Four (the book) is a young adult science fiction novel that screams ‘make me into a movie’. The book calls for loads of special effects, has larger than life characters and a thrilling, adventurous pace and storyline.

The first of a proposed 6-series book deal, the two authors James Frey (yes, he of the controversial A Million Little Pieces) and Jobie Hughes have created a clever, somewhat original take on the ‘alien on earth trying to survive amongst humans’ scenario. The twist, however, is that these aliens are hunted down by other aliens...not humans thus far (humans are blissfully unaware at this stage that Earth is also home to Loriens and Magodorians!).

The novel is written by the so-called Pittacus Lore a Lorien elder ‘entrusted with the story of the Lorien Nine’ and the preface to the novel reads ‘The events in this book are real. Names and places have been changed to protect the Lorien Six, who remain in hiding. Take this as your first warning. Other civilizations do exist. Some of them seek to destroy you.’

With enticing real-event qualities, this tale is sure to suck young adult readers in.

I was eager to read the novel when I first heard about it (before I knew of the movie) because I too was impressed with the mysterious storyline – 9 were alive, 3 are they are after Number 4 and this is his tale. Helps too that I am always happy to relive ‘teenage years’ through young adult books that have thrilling storylines and a dash of science fiction and fantasy. Nice to have a break from Vampires and Witches, Angels and Fairies!

I wanted to know more about this Number 4, the Magodorians and Loriens and why they can only be hunted in numerical order? I was also after an easy, fun, fast-paced, quick read and that is certainly what this book offers. The characters are ‘cool’ and likeable. The teenage issues John deals with ring true and will resonate with teenage readers, and even if the dialogue is a little weak and predictable, you can overlook this because you are swept up quite easily in the storyline.

I look forward to seeing the movie – mind you I am one for action and aliens – but if you are after something more in a book, this might not be your thing.