Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (Rick Riordan) Book Review [4 Stars]

Half-God. Half-Decent?

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When it comes to children’s books a series always seems to preform well, as long as your character is likeable, and goes on a monumental journey. Lightning Thief is a classic example of a series starter, a big adventure where the main character discovers who they are; acting as a tone-setter for the books to come.

Percy Jackson could be described as a ‘troubled’ child. A new school is needed every year and he has ended at a Private School with other troubled kids, including his (new) best friend who gets teased wherever he goes. After (accidentally) vaporising his maths teacher (and a few other incidents), he has been expelled again, and when he goes on a weekend holiday with mum his world turns upside down, and he finds out he is half-god.

Fans of action may realise the structure is the same as most books of this genre. Percy Jackson may not be a constant action but it has the predictability of one, causing it to fall into the ‘nothing special’ category. The immortal factor of Percy is a cool addition and it is important that the characters have to be careful of what they do, because they are almost too powerful for themselves, which is a hit in the action scenes. This it what brings ‘Lightning’ from average, to slightly above.

In terms of violence ‘Percy Jackson’ is quite clean, with no death but a gunfight near the end. It is nothing in comparison to some of the ‘Alex Rider’ and ‘Young Bond’ books.

Overall, it is a good book that would only merit 4 Stars from someone like myself, but find a the right person and it will be an instant hit.

4 Stars

Sky Chasers (Emma Carroll) Book Review [4.5 Stars]

Reaching for the stars!

What is the greatest prize an avid reader can receive. Getting a book published? That has to be up there. Not having to write it? That would be the pinnacle of greatness. Sky Chasers by Emma Carroll is the book that used the idea of the winner of the Big Idea 2014 competition. We had to wait 3 years for this book but it turns out it was worth the wait.

Magpie is an orphan. She picks pockets. She does criminal errands. One day, a woman called Madame Delacroix gives her a job for 5 gold coins. She has to steal a box from a house, not knowing what’s in it. However, she gets caught in the act and has to run off with only some of the contents. Papers. Lots, and lots of papers. The rest, they say, is history.

This book is very well written and meshes fact and fiction almost perfectly. In fact, I didn’t find out what was true until the very end, where it summarises the true story. The characters are unique, and none are perfect, but none are fully evil either. It is this mix of good and bad in each character that makes you care about them, and this is why I rate this book so highly.

Overall there are very few flaws in this brilliant example of modern literature. It is certainly a good read and can be enjoyed by both children and adults.

*Robin Recommends*

4.5 Stars

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (JK Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne) Book Review [4 Stars]

Harry Potter. But West End!

When a sequel takes place so long after the original story it becomes hard to make the reader care about the character because they have grown up and have often grown out of the loop of the story. This book is not an example of this, as new characters have been introduced as the original characters children.

Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy are about to start their first years at Hogwarts. They meet each other on the train at platform 9 3/4, and instantly become friends. When they both get sorted into Slytherin they realise they must stick together.

My problem with HPatCC is that the character seem unchanged, as they have never grown up. The book is the playscript from the West End Production of this story, however, I feel it should have been written into a full on book instead. It is written very well and it you can easily picture the actual play while reading the book.

This is an essential for any hardcore Harry Potter fan who has read all of the main books in the series.

4 Stars

Heaven Eyes (David Almond) Book Review [3 Stars]

Don’t try rafting down a river on your own! Or with a parent… it’s dead dangerous.

A McDonalds cheeseburger is a nice eat out, tastes nice, a good value for money, but there’s something that feels a bit ‘cheap’ about it. That is the feeling I got from ‘Heaven Eyes’. It’s a nice book with a good idea at it’s core bit it doesn’t feel like it’s worth much.

Erin Law is a ‘damaged child’ who lives in Whitegates, a care home. She has a friend called January Carr who suggests they should run away again and embark on an adventure. They are joined by a timid boy called Mouse Gullane and his pet Squeak (the mouse) on a rafting trip down the river Ouseburn where they get stuck in the Black Middens. It is there where they meet a girl called Heaven Eyes.

The main problem is the tedious sections in the Black Middens. There is too much constant repetition of ideas throughout some of these sections and whilst you can see what Almond is trying to do, there isn’t any point where he is able to perfectly execute it. There is also some very mild swearing which parents of younger readers may want to be wary of. The choice of having Erin narrate the story is perfect in my opinion, it really lets the author use deeper meanings throughout the book.

Back to the cheeseburger. The setting is the bread, Erin is the burger, the story is the cheese and Heaven Eyes is the gherkins.

3 Stars

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 (Sue Townsend) Book Review [5 Stars]

Humour is a a writing trick that many have tried to use and failed. It’s easy to make a funny (albeit sometimes unnecessary) joke in the middle of a book but sustaining that humour is much harder. Sue Townsend has pulled this off and showed that she is one of few that have this magnificent talent. In ‘The Secret Diary’ Townsend makes Adrian Mole naturally funny, and portrays him as as a character who has no idea he is who even has an ounce of humour in him.

Adrian Mole thinks of himself as an intellectual who is misunderstood and underrated. He also has his own love life, and some things he wants to keep secret. This is very well represented throughout the book where Adrian Mole sends his poems to the BBC, hoping for a reply. He is quite brutal towards some people, while often failing to realise when he is at fault.

Despite being written as the diary of a teenager, the book is actually very well written throughout and takes on a unique writing style that makes the book fun at all times. Even though this book was written in 1982 it is still very understandable and most of the jokes still make sense.

*Robin Recommends*

5 Stars

The Speed of the Dark (Alex Shearer) Book Review [2 Stars]

The Speed of the Dark is, in essence, a autobiography for a made up person. It is set up as a story and is a weird mix of first and third person accounts by the same made up person. Christopher Mallan is what the introduction presents as a whizz-kid. He is studying science and wonders what could happen if he made his decelerator work backwards.

The story seems to drag on from the start where nothing really happens, and then the story is contained within too few pages. Both the idea and the writing style are good, but the story lets it down. I personally found it hard to follow everything that was happening at any one time, and found that the idea is wasted on poor timing.

The biggest problem is that the book is a chore to read, and for the most part isn’t actually enjoyable. This is another example of where a good idea is wasted on a poor storyline.

2 STARS

Ask An Astronaut by Tim Peake [Book Review] (5 stars)

Many people dream of becoming an astronaut but there aren’t enough books for wannabe astronauts out there. This is why it is so good that the first ever British astronaut has written a book.

AAA is not a autobiography. It’s a book purely created to answer questions and a good at that. It provides a good insight into the life of an astronaut with serious and silly stuff included. It provides 250 pages which give you a really good insight into astronaut life, everything included.

The brilliant thing about this book is that it never fails to be interesting even when explaining stuff like microgravity. It manages to cover everything in such immaculate detail that you feel like you know everything about space.

Kids and adults alike will love this book for it’s constantly interesting information. A must buy. *Robin Recommends* 5 Stars