Monday, May 28, 2018

The Art of Worldbuilding

I talk about worldbuilding the Lenticular, including how to use Pinterest and language to create depth and texture, over on Kerry Rogerson's blog.

Review - The Buried Ark - James Bradley

The Buried ArkThe Buried Ark by James Bradley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first Book of the Change, The Silent Invasion, channelled classic YA speculative fiction like the Tripods and Tomorrow series and ended with one hell of a cliffhanger. See my earlier review on Goodreads.

The Buried Ark picks up the action immediately after the end of Book 1. Callie is in the Zone and penetrates deeper into the nightmarish landscape with her less than trustworthy companion. The people that exist there are terribly altered. Author James Bradley is clearly riffing on The Invasion of The Bodysnatchers but manages to turn it into something darker, which is no mean feat.

Of course the deeper horror of the Books of the Change is that the Zone is a corollary for the climate change we see accelerating around us, and which is turning our ecosystem into something just as inhospitable. It's a truth the young readers of these books will have to confront in the too-near future. Speculative fiction often deals with what is happening in the real world today, and Callie is the perfect avatar for the upcoming generation who - we hope - will be able to solve the problems left them by so-called adults.

Within this uncomfortable framework, the action in The Buried Ark is relentless as Callie finds unwelcome truths about the Zone's denizens and herself before becoming embroiled in a plan to halt the Change with deadly consequences for everyone on the planet.

The ending of Book 2 is one of the most gutsy pieces of writing I've seen in a long time, doubling down on Book 1's cliffhanger and then some. Where Book 3 will take us, I have no idea, but I'm buckled in and ready for the ride.

View all my reviews

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Review - La Belle Sauvage - Phillip Pullman

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1)La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well that was disappointing. I loved the His Dark Materials books and their combination of imagination, action and big ideas and I looked forward to diving into Pullman's world again with the first in a prequel trilogy.

The story of La Belle Sauvage starts promisingly enough. Lyra is a baby and has been ordered into the protection of a nunnery near Oxford. Malcolm is a likable and plucky boy who works and lives with his parents at a nearby pub and often visits the nuns. The arrival of Lord Asriel to see his daughter draws Malcolm into a battle that is raging around the baby between the Magisterium and a secret network of spies called Oakley Street.

The witches in the north have a prophecy about the baby and others want to do her harm. During a violent storm and subsequent flood, Malcolm flees with the baby and Nancy, a serving girl, in his boat La Belle Sauvage across a drowned land.

The rest of the book - 50% of the text - centres on a series of adventures the three have, which become quite repetitive and have little to no bearing on the central plot. After a few chapters of this it begins to feel like incident for incident's sake. Filler. The central plot is also vague. There's talk of Dust and certain scientific research, but because Malcolm and Nancy are not part of the Magisterium or Oakley Street, their knowledge (and ours) is limited.

The whole series of events (it's not a plot really) peters to a predictable end with the promise that something interesting or really exciting might happen in the next book. I don't think I can be bothered.

View all my reviews